A student’s “political knee-jerk reaction” to President-Elect Donald Trump
As some of the major results began to roll in; Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, I began to experience (as I’m sure many this side of the pond did) an uncomfortable, melancholy déjà vu. A punch in the gut is how I would best describe it; a bad stomach-ache, accompanied by the horrible sinking feeling that as unlikely as this result seemed, maybe, just like Brexit, it was inevitable. Still half asleep, the drone of the TV merging with the sound of my street slowly awakening outside my window: as the election result became apparent, my dazed state and the surreality of what was unfolding before me had me half believing I was in a dream, or perhaps more accurately, a nightmare.
As the day began to break my inbox and notifications quickly filled with commentary on the result. As I lazily glazed over meme after meme after meme with my coffee and beans-on-toast, my thoughts wandered. I think to myself: this bricolage of senselessness seems to me the only response to this result that makes any sense at all. In this post-truth era of politics the disillusioned have thoughtlessly pushed Britain towards Brexit and America towards ‘god knows’, out of, from what I can tell, disinterest and ignorance at best and sheer boredom at worst. This in turn creates a second wave of a politically disillusioned people: me. So why take this seriously? How can I take this seriously?
For The United Kingdom and America, Brexit and Trump with all their uncertainties are not the only challenges that lie ahead. We face a problem far more systemic: a cultural and political challenge that, though less apparent is just as pertinent as what is staring us right in the face. The fallacy that we could so easily fall into would be to start believing that politics is a joke: that it is no more important; no more significant; no more relevant to our everyday life than any other popularity contest. It is no more than another piece of meaningless entertainment. The danger is that as we laugh we begin to believe that this, what is happening right now, is no more than a bad joke. Trump is a perfect example: a celebrity who, unlike Hillary, is different, exciting, unpredictable, controversial, “the underdog”, and thus entertaining. Why not just vote for him? Change is exciting right?
We forget that these decisions, Brexit for example, are not a school science experiment. With these decisions come real repercussions for everyone. And this is the crucial thing that we cannot forget if we don’t want to repeat the mistakes we are making today, neither out of (perhaps justified) cynicism or of apathy. So while I think some comedic catharsis might be suitable to get us through day one, I for one feel we must vigilant: it is this complete disillusionment with the political systems and institutions that has got us here in the first place. Lets not repeat these mistakes. We have to come away from this with something. We have to learn something.