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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Trump

"What is on your mind?" the app I use to write blog posts asks me every time I open it up. Well, mainly Duckling and his two year old melt downs. But also Brexit. Still. And Trump.

It is hard to know what to say about a man so odious, though many have tried. Screaming carrot demon is one of my favourite monikers (thank you Samantha Bee). Absolute arsehole (or asshole if we're being authentically American) would be my less creative version.

What depresses me more than Trump's vile personality though, and the vile policies and rhetoric it gives rise to, is the ardent support he enjoys from such a large proportion of the US population. There is much I could write about populism, the post fact society where feelings matter more than truth and reason and the bitter divisions within the US in terms of race, income and political ideologies. Trump has exploited all of these to get to where he is, just as the Brexit campaign did in the UK, to such unfortunate effect.

But this is about Trump the man. Why is it that so many are unwilling to recognise Trump for what he is? An egomaniac. A narcissist. A sociopath. These are undoubtedly big words, which, to be blatantly condescending, are unlikely to be in most Trump supporters' everyday vocabulary. The traits that define them - lying, cheating, manipulation, self-agrandisment, thin skin, lashing out, overt sexism, obvious racism, viciousness, pomposity, basic disregard for human equality and human life - should be easy to recognise though, and should start alarm bells ringing in the minds of anyone who has even a vague ability to recognise right from wrong, even the most basic notion of what happened in Germany in the 1930s and even the slightest idea of characteristics that might be undesirable in a democratic, decent, respectable President.

Hilary Clinton is of course not exactly a perfect alternative. The charity and email server scandals were very unfortunate (if not nearly as scandalous as Trump makes out) . But in terms of 'wrongdoing' this article from the Slate sums it up nicely. Major misdemeanours by Clinton = 1. By Donald Trump = 230.

Where are society, the State, parents, schools, the media, all of us - in the US and beyond (for there are Trump backers here too) - going so wrong that so many people are immune Trump's malignancy, or, worse still, are actively embracing it? Are half the US population missing basic emotional intelligence and compassion? Are the women that plan to vote for him really so hating of minorities that they'd rather ignore their own rights and vote for a pussy grabber than a fellow woman? Are children no longer being raised to be kind and respect others? And if they are, at what point does the message switch to "just look out for yourself and people like you. Everyone else can fuck off?" I can understand how a tough life (or frankly a comfortable, well-off life that you want to protect) can give rise to this kind of thinking. But as with the xenophobia driving Brexit, it doesn't make it excusable.

Everyone is entitled to their political beliefs, and in his own unique way Trump does represent many dearly held by Republicans in the US, however unpalatable they may be to us more liberal minded Europeans (though I can no longer vouch for the liberality of roughly half my country to be honest). But there is a difference between being conservative in your beliefs - which in America is strongly tied to the concept of FREEDOM let's not forget (albeit really only for white middle class males) and being a power-crazed lunatic who just spouts whatever nonsense he thinks will put him ahead in the polls. Many voters at this juncture probably believe that being in Trump's 'in group' (white people) they will be protected, represented, have their lives improved. That's why they're voting for him. They don't care about all the many people he hates, the women he's assaulted, all the people he has alienated and stamped on. He doesn't hate THEM. He makes mistakes and talks like one of them. He GETS them. Until the day he decides they or the social group to which they belong, for whatever reason, have offended him, and then their lives will be made as miserable as the many Mexicans and Muslims he plans to piss all over if he comes to power. Fascism 101.

If there wasn't a chance this will all end in nuclear armaggedon, the idea of Trump actually having to navigate the complexities of leading a world superpower would be utterly hilarious. It would make a far more engaging reality show than The Apprentice. But it isn't funny. Whichever way the election goes today, there will have to be some serious soul searching in the USA tomorrow, and beyond, where Americans ask themselves "How did we allow this man to get so far, how is it so many found him acceptable and how do we stop something like this from ever happening again?" Let's hope it doesn't take four years of a living Trump nightmare to drive the message home.

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