I think we can agree, all in all, that 2016 has been an extremely excellent year. Simply wonderful. We’re all dreading the day December 31st comes around and all the great times are behind us: the ongoing deaths of our most beloved celebrities, the simply delightful financial turmoil of Brexit, and now President Donald J. Trump. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, we’ll all collectively cross our fingers and wish for another great helping of the same again, please.
In a campaign trail that has lasted 18 months, Trump started as a seemingly no-hope novelty candidate in the Republic Primaries a year and a half ago, and went to being seemingly a no-hope candidate in the Presidential election literally mere hours ago. At 7:40 GMT this morning, his opponent Hillary Clinton conceded defeat, which means Donald Trump is now the President of the United States of America.
Now, the aftermath of these events is usually – and will undoubtedly be – a political post-mortem; reams and reams spent analysing and scrutinising exactly what happened, why it happened and where it all went wrong? The Democrats putting up an establishment candidate so uninspiring that she couldn’t beat an opponent with exactly no political experience and most famous for being a bully on television, is a start, but now, in this moment, it is too soon to look backwards, into the past.
The most pressing and immediate thing we must address is the conditions of our present, where a man who wilfully discriminates against people on the grounds of their ethnicity, their migrant status, their disabilities and whether they belong to the LGBT community is now the President. A man who boasts of sexually assaulting women is now the President. A man who opposes same sex marriage and abortion is now the President. A man who has made it policy position to instigate the involuntary relocation of American citizens is now the President. A man who denies the existence of climate change is now the President. A man who wants torture methods to return to those he was so very fond of when studying medieval history is now the President. A man who has repeatedly made threats of using nuclear weapons is now the President.
Donald Trump is not just one maniacal despot that has claimed power in some fluke, he is the millions that voted for him. The ramifications are that today brings a far more frightening world for people across America and beyond to wake up in than the one it was yesterday. Marginalised people are now explicitly aware, if they weren’t before, that a terrifying percentage of the society they live in utterly despises them. And that percentage now has a mandate. The rights to enjoy ways of life, to personal freedoms and to safety have been absolutely compromised by this result.
As the fallout from Brexit has already proven, there should be no delusion that this wave of intolerance is contained within America. It already has its claws deep in the UK and Australia, while across Europe Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Finland and Switzerland all have alarming nationalist factions. Every day the world becomes smaller and less welcoming. The United States’ unprecedented lurch to the right last night makes the spectres of France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders seem all the more ominous harbingers of yet worse tomorrows.
But if we are to do anything useful with our todays, we should use them to rally around those feeling most immediately vulnerable who need our solidarity now more than ever; we should use them to reassure one another that this is a future – however grim and full of uncertain dread – that we do not have to face alone, and will not face alone; and we should use them to ensure that – on the todays like today where the world reveals itself to truly be as sad as it seems and abject despair is all that you can muster – we take care of ourselves. Because our tomorrows are worth fighting for.