on the 2016 US Presidential Election
a disclaimer, or forewarning: these are my opinions, they are my own, and if you do not like them, let us agree to disagree.
“Trump’s victory is going to be one of those events where you’ll always remember where you were when you heard the news”.
I was walking to the lecture theatre to go to class, it was approximately 3:40PM UTC+8, when I refreshed my Twitter and saw that everything I wished would never happen had happened.
It was a tense time for all of us – I had spent a better part of the day on the edge of my seat, trying and failing to study as a consequence of watching the election results unfold. And lo and behold, the worse has come to be.
I had a lot of thoughts and feelings to process, and I’m still processing them now. I meant to do this last night, but then I had a generous portion of vodka and decided that bed was a better idea – and it was, because I feel a lot more clarity now. It’s still a lot for me to process and put in words, so I’ll do it in listicle form, because point form is the best when your head’s a mess.
This is very emotional, and maybe more of a prayer than anything, but here it is.
- Trump is President-Elect
I hoped this would never come to pass. I believed so fervently that it was a joke, that all his bluster and blunder were just entertaining and that no one would actually vote for him. I didn’t really think he’d become President of the United States, but this just goes to show that the unlikely can become unfortunate reality.
Dear Mr Trump, you are not the person I wished to see in the White House. You are the summation of everything I stand against, as a person, and I must clarify, that I am not American. I am, however, a citizen of this world that is so inextricably entwined to the US economy, and you stand for everything I hate.
However, the votes have been tallied, the scores have come in, and you are here. You are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, ableist, bigoted, the list goes on – but you are the next President of the United States. And I will choose to be optimistic. I hope that candidate Trump and president Trump will be two different people. I hope you care for all Americans and that you will work for the greater good. I hope you accept love and stop spreading hate. I hope you will open your eyes and truly see what is happening in the world. I hope that you will not undo the progress that has come to be in the last eight years, with President Obama at the helm – all the work he has done to provide equal rights for all, and a greater America.
I hope that you will rise to the challenge and be a president for all the people of America.
To Mike Pence, you who believe in conversion therapy, I hope you open your eyes and see the world for what it is, that your mind expands and you understand the world. I don’t like you even more than I don’t like Mr Trump, but I will have faith.
To Mr Trump’s family, I wish for you the poise and grace. Your lives will be under even greater scrutiny than ever before, but I hope you will be a First Family that will do America honour.
And to those who supported Mr Trump – I do not agree with you, but I will not say that your feelings are invalid. You have your reasons for voting him in – and I hope to God you have made the best decision you can. All I can say is that I hope you too will open your eyes, and see the world for what it is beyond your bubble. I struggle to fathom your reasons, though this article from Cracked helped.
Dear Mr Trump, you are not the person I wished to see in the White House. But you are the person going into the White House (unless you get impeached after the results of your trial next month), so I hope, with all my heart, that things will work out for the best.
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I take heart from it. I hope it brings you a measure of comfort as well, in this dark time.
2. Hillary Clinton and the Goddamn Patriarchy: Glass Slippers & Glass Ceilings
In 2008, I was twelve years old, and I didn’t care much about the US Elections. What kid does, really? I don’t remember it very much, but I remember one thing – I wanted Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. No matter who won, it would have been incredible for America. But twelve-year-old me desperately wanted to see a woman take the seat, to show me that women, too, can hold what seemed to be the biggest job in the world.
Mr Obama won that nomination and subsequently went on to become President, and that was a beautiful thing, for he invoked so much change and created so much positivity.
Fast forward eight years, I’m now twenty, and invested in the US Elections as much as anyone with an interest in world affairs has. But just like eight years ago – I wanted Hillary Clinton to win. But she didn’t, and it frustrates me. I didn’t cry when I heard that Trump won, but I nearly wept when I saw Hillary Clinton’s concession speech.
I looked up to her then, and I still do now. She’s not perfect – she’s one heck of a mess herself, as the whole e-mail saga will tell, but she’s got decades of experience in politics. Nevermind the fact that she’s a former First Lady – she’s been the Secretary of State, a senator of New York. She knows politics, she’s been in it. She’s worked so very hard to reach this point – but she couldn’t smash the greatest, the hardest, the biggest glass ceiling of all.
There are many reasons behind why she didn’t win, and the political analysts will dissect it for months – distant elite, silent majority working class, unhappiness in the country – but one cannot deny that misogyny and patriarchy played a part as well.
Dear Mrs Clinton, I admire you. I admire your tenacity, your strength, that in a world dominated by men, you have forged through and fought to get to this point, to make your voice heard and to show every girl out there that women have a place, too, in the political stage. You’ve been called a plethora of names – “Nasty Woman” among others, but women have taken that title as our own. We all want to be a “Nasty Woman” – we all want to be successful, confident, independent, just like you. The results of this election hurt for women everywhere – that no matter how hard we work, how qualified we are, how much better we may be, we will still lose to a blustering tangerine because he is a man. It hurts, but we will keep pushing forward.
Dear Mrs Clinton, you are not, and never have been, a damsel in distress. You never needed a ball and glass slippers, though you did find a Prince Charming who you have stuck with despite the fact that he’s a great mess too. Maybe in the modern day we think you dumb for staying by his side despite his philandering, but maybe your love is something we cannot fathom. You crushed glass slippers beneath your feet, and you rammed the toughest glass ceiling of all with all your might. You may not have broken it, but there are cracks, fissures. You have weakened it, and you have laid the foundation.
One day, and one day soon, I hope, we will see the first Madame President of the United States.
Dear Mrs Clinton, thank you. You’ve broken countless glass ceilings in your lifetime, and you have paved the way for the future.
I composed a very emotional poem about this, with Cinderella imagery because of the glass slippers/glass ceiling dichotomy. It still needs refinement, I am not happy with it, and I will probably rewrite it many times, but here it is in its raw form, still untitled:
glass shoes are
a broken cliche
what happens after the carriage
becomes a pumpkin
and the horses run away?
Cinderella your hopes
and dreams have come to ashes
and the corpses of your ideals
are nothing less
because glass shoes are the least
of your worries
with broken shards on your feet
you still strive and climb
but that glass ceiling above you
you raise a fist and smash into
you cannot break through
but you have cracked it
left a fissure in foundations
left a legacy to uphold
and Cinderella, maybe,
one day, in glory,
crystal rain will fall.
- To those who voted third-party, or didn’t vote at all
To those who voted third-party: you stood for your ideals, you stood for what you believed in, and I accept that. I accept that frankly the number of people who voted third-party wouldn’t have tipped the scales in Clinton’s favour very much in the grand scheme of things.
To those who wrote joke votes: please fuck off and think about what you wasted your vote on.
To those who didn’t vote at all: you have legitimate reasons for not being able to vote, and that is alright. You may have had legitimate reasons for not wanting to vote, but I still think you wasted your vote, and well, the consequences are such.
- The marginalised, the minorities, the people who live in fear
Trump’s victory has left countless people in fear. From what I’m seeing on social media, violence has already begun. The racist, misogynistic, homophobic – the bigots- they have, in a way, had their views validated, and now there is violence. America is now in a state of flux, a state of transition, and I get the feeling blood will be spilled and streets will run red.
There are many out there who are living in fear, who now have a President-Elect who seeks to oppress them, a man who has declared climate change an invention of the Chinese, who wants to build a wall between America and Mexico, whose VP supports conversion therapy, who wants to deport the immigrants. There are many out there who will be hurt, will be harassed, will not be able to be free, how ironically, in the land of the free.
I want you all to be safe. To find a safe space. I believe you need to make your voices heard, but I know that it comes at a price – in a place where your lives don’t matter, where racism is institutionalised, where violence is very, very real. I want you to know that the world is here for you. That I am here for you. You are important, you are valid.
I cannot help you very much, from halfway across the world in a tiny island-nation in Southeast Asia, but I offer you this: in the darkest night, in the worst of hours, when all hope is lost, do not give up. Keep fighting for a better tomorrow.
And to everyone else: stand up for these people who need help. Welcome them with open arms – show them that they belong. Take action. Stop harassment, speak out. Be the voice for those who are voiceless. Champion your causes, fight the good fight. Remember, one man cannot do much against the collective power of a community filled with love for all.
I saw this drawing shared on my Twitter feed, and I think it’s important for us to know what we can do to make someone feel safer, even in the smallest way. The comic is written in the context of Islamophobia, but I think you can use it in any situation when you witness such harassment. Even the smallest action can make a difference.
- The world as one
People who ask me “Why do you care about the US election so much?” and say “it doesn’t affect us at all” deserve a good tight slap in the face. Everything that happens in the world affects us – you know that saying about a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane in another?
Well, a pebble in the water makes a ripple effect, and every action in this world bears a consequence.
What a Trump presidency means for the world, and for Asia, is pretty scary. Singapore is a tiny island, we are tied inextricably to the world economy, to trade. Issues like the TPP, free trade – it affects us. And from a diplomatic standpoint – if America turns inwards, what happens in Asia with the rise of China? How do we balance these things? I’m no expert on the political ramifications of this election, and I don’t understand it clearly – but a Trump presidency will create ripples in the world. Already, the US dollar has dropped, and the stock market crashed like never seen before yesterday. What this means in the arena of international relations and global economy, I do not know – I just know that this affects us.
And from a more emotional standpoint, well, America has long been regarded as the benchmark for the world. We looked up to them for ideals of democracy and freedom – when they legalised same-sex marriage in all fifty states, I rejoiced in the hope that it would then cascade down the world to all mankind. When America does something, the world listens, the world watches. I have friends and family in America – people who I fear will be targeted for being Asian, for being Muslim, for being LGBT, for being a foreign student “taking up” the university places of Americans – and I worry for them, for their safety, for their future. A Trump presidency could very well mean a backward slide of America into an era of oppression, a reversal of progress, the undoing of everything that has been achieved in the last decade – and that terrifies me.
People tell me it’s the end of the world as we know it. With the Republicans ignoring climate change and the potential ramifications for the economy and civil rights, it could very well be the end. But humanity has survived tremendous hardship, we have survived brutality and violence and made it intact.
In C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Screwtape Letters’, the demonic Screwtape laments that war provides an avenue for people to exhibit acts of courage and kindness that they never would otherwise, which works contrary to what he wishes for as a devil. In this darkest of times we will see the worst of humanity, but we will also see the best.
The world will keep spinning. The sun will rise again tomorrow. We will keep moving forward. Life does not stop because Trump is the president. We will get through this together. I believe in the greater power of mankind, that everything happens for a reason. History is repeating itself, and the world is a far more dangerous place – but we will survive.
Call me an idealist, an optimist. Call me naive. Call me a fool. Tell me I don’t know anything. And it’s true, I don’t. I won’t know what it’s like to be American, to live in fear, to have had such horrible choices of candidates at the polls, to question how our elections have come to this. I’m an idealist, an optimist. I’m naive, I’m a fool. I’m just a kid from a tiny island-nation armed with nothing more than a laptop and a mind that can barely process the information it receives.
But we will survive. We will keep the faith. We will not lose the good fight. God bless us all.
And even in the darkest night – the sun will still rise tomorrow.