You all know how it looks like for the world; here is what it looks like from the little spot where I’m currently sitting, sandwiched between a computer and a cat. In the middle of a rahter stressful couple of weeks, including a hectic shcool trip, two attacks on our students right in front of the school, and my knee acting up again to the point that I can’t even go to work and have to stay at home craddling my computer and swallowing morphine, Donald Trump was elected.
We’re not the people for whom it should be a problem. After all, this is happening across the ocean, isn’t it? And this was a democratic election where people expressed their wishes for their country as they’re supposed to, and I’m the first one to rant when people lash out against the politics of other countries without being aware of all the aspects of the situation (that’s why I was extremely annoyed when foreign blogs reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attacks by merely stating that it was very sad but then again these people were racist jerks). But it’s a bit different when you’re talking about the most powerful country in the world. Like it or not, what happens in the US can influence places very far outside the US. In Europe, the baffling trend of looking up to the USA as a model of economic success is still continuing (apparently, there are some people who consider that a country can be ‘successful’ with less-than-stellar rates of poverty, inequality or infant death). And I don’t want France to start deriving inspiration from a country led by Trump, believe me.
There is no question that this election will be a blow for the entire world. First, our environment does not have boundaries. If Trump decides that it’s off with natural reserves and climate-protecting measures, then it is. I hate to point it out, but there it is: the USA already is among the world’s major polluters. If the whole world lived like the average US citizen, we would need four or five planets the size of Earth to make ends meet. That’s one of the highest rates of the planet (twice that of Europe, and Europeans are most definitely not an example when it comes to sobriety), and there’s no use trying to blind ourselves by pointing to China and India. If, instead of taking radical steps to curb resource overconsumption, the US government decides to let every business run wild, we’re screwed. Every single one of us.
Of course, Trump’s isolationism could reassure us, from a strictly selfish standpoint. After all, it could bring an end to the negotiations on TTIP, the free-exchange treaty that has been looming over our heads for years, and which threatens to force us to bring European health regulations down to US standards, essentially destroying our agriculture in the process (as if European agriculture needed more destroying after all it’s been through in the past fifty years), and imposing private tribunals to judge whether or not a country should be able to raise its minimum wage if it makes private companies lose money (a thing that’s already happening all over the world). The thing is, Trump is not alone, and I don’t think his friends from big businesses will let go of TTIP that easily. So I don’t have much hope on that front. And I would much, much rather see Europe reject TTIP on democratic grounds (for example, after acknowledging that an overwhelming majority of the population is firmly against it) than see it go through the window decause a half-illiterate populist said so.
Plus, as my boyfriend says, it’s extremely worrying to see that Trump is planning to withdraw from the Middle-East and at the same time increase the army’s budget. If he’s not going to engage in any more wars, what on earth does he need that big army for?
Now I’m worried for another reason. Trump did it. He showed that it was possible. And we have a similar threat hanging over our heads in France, as well. The National Front, our own brand of bigoted populists, have been on the rise. If Trump won, we can’t assume we’re safe from the Le Pen family. We can’t hide our heads in the sand anymore.
There is no other way to put it: I’m disgusted. Utterly, sincerely revolted. I understand that there are many people out there who are out of patience with the ‘system’ (whatever they mean by that), and who want to shove traditional politicians out of the window, with their little nepotic games and appalling lack of awareness of what the average person’s life is like. But neither Trump nor the Le Pen family are any different: they’re wealthy people who have lost touch with reality decades ago, just like the rest of our reviled politicians. They are millionaires posing as ‘normal people’. Unbelievable as it is, it worked. Unbelievable as it is, people can see a billionaire who doesn’t pay his taxes and a political dynasty as outsiders and underdogs who will bring some honesty back into the political system. I’d love to feel genuine compassion for these voters, I truly would. I just can’t. Not because of a class thing, not because I think they’re below me, but simply because I refuse to think they’re that clueless. I refuse to think that they are just poor sheep who were fooled into believing that the wolf with the funny hat was in fact a shepherd. We’re talking about adult voters here. Whatever helplessness and frustration you feel in your daily life, I simply cannot believe that anyone can be fooled into thinking that a billionaire understands their daily concerns and will pay attention to them. No–what I believe is that, for many people, voting for either Trump or the National Front is a way to make sure that other people will be more miserable than they currently are themselves. Whether they admit it or not, it’s a way of heeding the countless dehumanising discourses that have been put out and making sure that the rabble of the world, whatever it is, will get what’s coming to them. I’m not even sure it’s supposed to make things better; as this elderly man on the bus put it the other day, it could be just a way to ‘have a good laugh’.
Perhaps I’m being unfair to some voters. Perhaps I’m letting my own anger and disgust get the better of me, I don’t know. The thing is, I don’t even want to try anymore. However bleak your life, nobody has a right to make other people miserable just to feel better. Now more than ever, it is our collective responsibility to do something about the situation we are in. And that ‘something’ is not voting for the most inept politicians out there just to see urban liberals pout. Let’s pull our collective head out our arse. The world needs it.