So there we have it. The results are out. The decision has been made; Donald Trump will be the next president of the USA… and oh, God.
I went to bed last night with an almost nervous feeling in my stomach. A deeply rooted anxiety was brewing, because I knew just how important this election was going to be. Throughout St Andrews and the world alike, many spent the evening huddled around the TV with a stiff drink to take the pain away, or perhaps to celebrate. A political frenzy seized the world; even I (despite being shattered due to intense recent essay writing) drifted off sleep listening to the radio commentary of the slow, long-awaited reveal.
The dark winter nights, the recent revival of the woollen coat in response to the Baltic St Andrews temperatures and the Christmas songs beginning to echo in Costa are all too reminiscent of the festive period. Wrapped up warmly in my bed, tense, I felt I was almost awaiting some kind of sinister Father Christmas, with white floppy hair and an orange face.
As one of the leading powers and strongest economies in the world, the USA really is a big player in international relations. Consequently, who its people choose to put in power really does have a big impact upon the global stage. A vote for a particular candidate is a means of expression. By examining the rhetoric and persona of a candidate we can perhaps identify deeply engrained social attitudes and biases; due to some of the things Trump has come out with throughout his campaign, I was profoundly unnerved at the prospect that perhaps, his victory would encourage those who want a world where there is really not much hope for societal progression and safety for people of all genders, colours and sexualities. Maybe we really will start building walls. Deep in our social psyche, is this what we really desire?
With this in mind, as I woke up to my 97th snoozed alarm this morning, ten minutes before my first lecture, my main priority was to check the result. Unlocking my phone, I was flooded with messages and tweets informing me that in fact, yes, the ugly side of society, had been given a prominent and loud voice. This was particularly sobering news after a pensive weekend following the ‘St Andrews for Syria’ event on Friday night. During the conference, the speakers constantly reiterated the need for compassion and humanity in the world today in order to deal with the humanitarian crises’ we are facing. The focus was on equality and the societal inclusion of all by as many means possible.
Can Trump achieve this? Sadly, I think not.
In a world where women are there to be ‘grabbed’, where immigrants and ethnic minorities are labelled as ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’ whilst also in some cases being denied even their most basic rights, and where refugees are refused safety upon accusations of terrorism… there will never be peace and security. In the world today, diversity is our strength, not our weakness. A wall may block the things we do not wish to see, but it will never take them away.
Let’s make the world great again.