In nostalgia, I started re-watching The West Wing about four weeks ago because The West Wing Weekly podcast had given me the warm ‘n’ fuzzies. Some may call The West Wing liberal porn or a liberal utopia but for me the show was about great writing, directing and acting. Aaron Sorkin had a vision of how men and women in power could and should conduct themselves whether through partisan or bi-partisan debate. The last 18 months of the 2016 U.S election has blown every ounce of duty and honour seen in The West Wing to pieces. In history, there has never been such a divisive American election.
But, I’m not going to pretend to be more politically minded than that. It’s over, we’re reeling, some of us are rejoicing and now, it is time to process. The outcome has shown that the American people yearned for a total break from established government, a similar reaction experienced in the UK with a vote to break from Europe. These shifts in political direction have signalled a loss in trust, a surge in alienation and, most significantly, galvanisation of “forgotten voters”. The rest of the world is now facing a daunting future with a super-power dedicated to protectionism, nationalism and forced “values”.
2016 has, for those living abroad, got us on the skids again. Questions about future foreign relations, policy and trade are tossed up in the air on post-it notes and left to scatter behind us. This morning Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, stated that for one reason or another he would have preferred Hillary Clinton to win. But, he also stated that the Swedish Government would go to great lengths to work alongside whoever became the next US President. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, spoke more frankly stating that “great uncertainty” was felt around Trump’s presidency for Sweden and the rest of the world. The rest of Europe has responded with mixed reactions of diplomacy, dumb shock and champagne corks. Similarly to the outcome of Brexit we will continue to await the outcome with a keen eye but at arms length. Nevertheless, the arms length might not be long enough this time around.
The first 100 days of Trump’s presidency will shine a light on the course of his 4 years in office. The world is yet to understand how he’ll deliver his populist “make America great again” promises despite the U.S. economic deficit and Trump’s harangued national and foreign policy rhetoric. But, perhaps, we’ll begin to understand the global implication of Trumps presidency and the “values” now stamped on his politics. We’re raising a generation of humans who are going to be bombarded with contradictory messages, morals and politics.
I promised myself I wouldn’t be reactionary in this post, but it burns in my belly. Personally, it terrifies me that I’m raising a daughter in a world with a country that has just elected a leader who is being taken to court to answer rape charges. I’m in shock that the President-elect’s former actions have signalled to millions of boys around the world that “locker-room talk” is JUST “locker-room talk” and that women’s bodies are objects to be ridiculed, sexualised and disposable. It’s unimaginable that a man who has been so overtly racist, bigoted and homophobic is allowed to be given this bull-horn of power for so-called “outsider freedoms”.
So, it’s down to us as world citizens and human beings to ensure our future accepts equality, love and plurality. Let that galvanise us! We’re open to change, we understand people’s need for feeling empowered. But, not at the cost of lives that have fought for equality and liberty, or the decades of social reform that are unravelling before us.
Wowsers, The Simpsons really nailed it.