Cultural Impact of the 2016 Election in the US

There were two events that happened on November 8, 2016. One is political, and politically what happened is akin to a very difficult situation in a game of pool, when you have a cluster of oddly positioned balls on the table and one of the players decides to just hit the whole cluster in the hope of some – ANY – resolution to a difficult situation. Trump was voted in overwhelmingly as a candidate of change – just like Obama before that. People are just looking for any kind of change, even if it might put the eight ball in the hole in the process. Unfortunately, the shortsightedness here is that his voters are looking for an explosive relief from a tectonic process of a much slower but inescapable change which inevitably leads to the fact that America will never be what it used to be again, for better or worse. That’s the paradoxical situation here – politically – that people who voted for a candidate of change are doing so exactly to revert the inevitable change in an ultimately futile attempt to make America what it was before again.

The second event was cultural, and that’s the one that makes me bitter. It’s the fact that America affirmed its allegiance to the cultural values that Trump represents: mistrust of the foreign driven by fear and ignorance, sexism and misogyny, anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism, machismo and buffoonery. My non-white and LGBT+ friends are not afraid of his executive decrees – they are afraid of a cultural license of bigotry and xenophobia that his presidency gives to Americans.

I would have accepted a thoughtful conservative, Mitt Romney comes to mind for one or McCain, and would agree to disagree for the next few years. But Trump did not get elected for his stance on the issues, he got elected for his explosive but pointless fear-mongering. America threw a temper tantrum, like a four year old, who’s told not to eat candy before dinner. Politically it’s dangerous, because nuclear weapons ended in the hands of a person who engages in Twitter wars with comedians in the middle of the night. Culturally, it’s deeply troubling, because his campaign showed how easy it is for a demagogue with loose morals to play on the fear and ignorance of an average American. He appealed to the lowest instincts and the nation went blind.

And here is my response to all those who claim that they voted for Trump for his economic policies, or his conservative ideals. I hope you understand that he will bring more devastation to the conservative ideals than he will to the progressive ones.

Many of you attempt to defend you choice by dismissing his racist and hateful  rhetoric as empty and inconsequential. Many of you claim that you’re not racists and have amicable relations with your neighbours of various shades of skin and various religions. You need to understand the dangerous shortsightedness of this position. You might not support racism, but you certainly enable it. The words of the President of the United States of America are supposed to be the voice of the American people and have a great impact on society in general. So there is now surprise that KKK and white nationalists feel emboldened enough to host congratulatory rallies. You gave them the ‘go ahead’ to do so.

Many of you say that all politicians are corrupt and we can’t use them as an example of moral behaviour. I think we as a nation and as a culture are in trouble precisely because we can’t use our leaders as our standards for ethics and moral behavior and find the very idea preposterous. They are supposed to be the best of us representing want we stand for and what we believe in. And that how they are generally viewed – as a face of the nation. So even if I disagree with my leaders on some issues or proposed solutions, I should still be able to respect them as individuals.

Many of you attempt to sound a benevolent voice of concession and offer as consolation the reminders of the limits of the presidential power. You’re right. We have a system of checks and balances and ways to restrain presidential authority. And because of that and many other reasons he won’t be able to accomplish much – in fact, I’m convinced that he won’t be able to fulfill the majority of his promises. And four years from now the progressives will stand up and ask you – you elected a hateful bigot into the office and FOR WHAT?! And this election will be the shame and the ruin of the conservative movement.

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