Politics is something I consider to be incredibly important. Every three or four years we as democratic citizens have the opportunity to elect someone who will guide our nation down one path or another, and perhaps now more than ever, the world finds itself increasingly at a crossroads. With the window to prevent the most devastating effects of climate change quickly closing, and increasing tensions and unrest between certain nations, having a level-headed, forward-thinking leader who listens to their advisers and makes policies based off evidence, not ideologies, is paramount.
Unfortunately, my country failed to do that this year. The people of Australia bought into the ill-named Liberal party’s lies and scaremongering, downplaying the significance of climate change (because having this many bushfires this often is totes normal, you guys), and justifying the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers being held indefinitely on island prisons, where they are regularly raped, abused and killed (including by the guards sent to protect them), out of fears that these people will “take your jobs” and “leech off of welfare”, because some people apparently don’t consider those two statements to be a contradiction of each other. Not to mention all our continuing issues in the treatment of our indigenous people, the dying Great Barrier Reef, the attacks to Medicare and our education system, bringing back Pauline Hanson, and the whole marriage equality debacle (luckily we just narrowly avoided a Plecibite, and all the bullshit that would have emerged from that). We basically fucked up, plain and simple.
This ugly shift to the conservative side of politics continued when Britain voted to leave the European Union. The fact that “what is the EU?” and “What does Brexit mean?” were the most googled terms the next day does not instill much confidence in these peopele’s ability to actually know what the hell they were doing.
And now the US has topped us all, by electing a loud angry orange businessman as their president. I’ve had some time to collect my thoughts on this whole event, and from what I can see it comes down to a few different factors: a) the disillusioned middle america whom don’t really know minorities and therefore don’t care about them and for some reason believed that this failed businessman (who did the impossible and sunk 6 casinos) would improve the economy and give them jobs despite not actually saying how he planned to do that, b) People who didn’t trust Hillary Clinton because she lost some emails/did some unsavory things as secretary of state/is a woman, c) angry Bernie Bros who have no concept of compromise to get shit done, and d) the fact that only 50% of the country actually voted. I’m told this turnout is actually good for American standards, but to me it just reinforces that they should join Australia in having compulsory voting, and make it possible in all states for people to postal vote (especially after all those stories of people making it harder/impossible for black people to vote. That’s fucked up). And also move the big day to a Saturday. AND preferably disperse with this whole Electoral College system (I’ve seen the apparent justifications and it still doesn’t make any sense. Just give every person an equal vote already). Seriously America, get that shit together.
a and b are valid concerns, to a degree. But Clinton has done far less worse things than numerous actual presidents (let’s not forget Nixon and his secret carpet-bombing of Vietnam), and at least we know what a Clinton presidency would have looked like. She’s consistent and stable, and that’s exactly that was needed in this time of global upheaval. But now the world is left with this wild card, this giant man-baby who has promised a great many outright stupid and harmful things, half of which he doesn’t even have the capacity to fulfill (there isn’t going to be a wall on the Mexican border. Especially not in this economy). But as far as I can see, Trump himself isn’t the real problem here.
Pence is way scarier. This is a man who has entirely no regard for the personhood of women, believes that they should be jailed for having miscarriages, and that all fetuses should be legally mandated to have funerals. He believes rape victims are obligated to carry any eventuating child to term. I’ve not been able to stomach looking into everything but I wouldn’t be surprised if he also advocated for women to die rather than have a life-saving abortion when there are medical complications. He’s also promised to repeal gay marriage, ban trans people from bathrooms, and a whole lot of other tyrannical nonsense. And he’d probably do it too. He is the one reason why I hope Trump isn’t deposed from the top job, as awful as he is; because Pence is worse. Waaay worse.
But before they’ve even had a chance to do anything, we can see the effect of this result on the culture. Countless stories of people experiencing terrifying racism and intimidation by scumbag white people, gleefully telling their neighbours to leave the country, tearing off hijabs, grabbing womens genitals etc. Trumps win has validated the shitty opinions of thousands of dickheads across the country. The same thing happened after Brexit. When you campaign based on divisive hatred, people act upon it when it seems like they’ve won. It’s a rallying against “PC culture” by privileged people who feel like trying to install equality is oppressing them. And it’s so fucking frustrating to watch.
I hope people are right in saying that shit will calm down. I hope that more people don’t kill themselves in despair (last I heard there were about eight confirmed suicides). I hope the people of America, the sensible ones who aren’t bigoted douchebags, can band together and stand in solidarity with these now threatened demographics, and that the asshole white supremacists etc will slither back into the woodwork from whence they came. I also hope that the people who voted for Trump due to economic reasons will realise how stupid that is (because, again, he hasn’t even specified how he plans to do that), but that may take a few years to sink in.
Most of all, I hope this is a lightbulb moment for the Left. I want us to realise we shouldn’t underestimate the concerns of middle-ground voters, and we shouldn’t overestimate their ability to see what we may think is just logical. We need to re-think our approach in explaining our concerns using language that will resonate with them. Because that’s how Trump really won this election. With language. Not fancy language, but powerful language. And that’s where writers can come in.
The media is an incredibly influential force, beyond just the news. It’s not just entertainment. People ARE affected by what they see and hear. The advertising industry is literally based off this principal. We could use this media to help promote empathy, to educate, and to empower people into believing a more hopeful future is possible (you know, with renewable energy and everyone having equal rights,and reassuring them that, no, multiculturalism and feminism aren’t cancers), so they won’t need to buy into negative spin and hateful rhetoric.
I don’t want to start writing about politics all the time here, but I had to get this off my chest. As a dystopian writer, politics is everything, and predicting political trends is my game. But we don’t write these stories because we want them to come true; we’re trying to warn you off letting it happen.
So please, if you know someone hurting after this election, give them a hug. Don’t let them despair. We’ve lost a battle but the war continues. Progress will ultimately always win. We just need to readjust our focus and fight a little harder to get there.