Pop Stuff: The Rise and Rise of Trump
As we see America turn on her axis pivoting away from globalization, inclusion and progressive ideals, how must we react?
You never think it’s going to happen to you. I watched the U.S. elections last month, from my retrospectively myopic vantage point in New York where everyone I knew was ready to celebrate a victory for democracy, for women, for progressive liberalism and for history. But America made history by thwarting us and crowning a reality TV host, ostensibly tax-skirting businessman, serial groper and nativist with a penchant for walls. In denial until the last, the country was blind to the fact that in Donald Trump, a group of people who felt left behind had found a voice. In their vote they gave the middle finger to the establishment.
The Democalypse has had a funereal fall out for the other half. People are grappling with what to tell their daughters, whether their families will be torn apart or how to feel safe in Trumpland. As ‘Not My President’ signs sailed along Fifth Avenue buoyed by thousands of protestors, I thought, isn’t this how the Arab Spring began—the people marching against demagoguery. Deep breath, put it in perspective. As we see America turn on her axis pivoting away from globalization, inclusion and progressive ideals, how must we react?
Initial denial has given way to a furious quest. As if on the psychoanalysis couch, America is undergoing an unrelenting self-examination. How much of this was attributable to Hillary being a ‘flawed’ candidate, to Assange, to the FBI? Where did the pollsters go wrong? Why did more than 50 percent of white women vote Trump? Is the conservative media to blame for propping up Trump or is the liberal media to blame for mocking him and firing up his supporters? The questions will write history books. Meanwhile in just a few weeks President Trump will follow the footsteps of Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan and Obama into the Oval Office.
During his meteoric rise to the presidency, Donald Trump ran a campaign on toppling almost every aspect of U.S. policy. He threated to deport millions, scrutinize Muslims, ‘cancel’ the Paris Climate agreement, rescind trade agreements and withdraw ‘America’s cloak of protection’ by bringing troops back. We would do well to temper fear with the pragmatism of examining what’s possible and shift energy from despair to defiance. To take just one example, Trump might not be so eager to ‘rip up’ the Iran nuclear deal once he fully grasps the repercussions of a global arms race. Simply put the version of events where President Trump ‘builds a wall’, ‘takes the oil’, ‘destroys ISIS’ and ‘makes America great again’ seems more probable as Marvel’s Tony Stark than as sitting U.S. President.
This is not to say that the panic is overblown. While Trump’s policy resolves will face a backlash, they still signal a tone of intolerance and closed borders that hang a dark cloud over Lady Liberty and dim the beacon for the rest of the world. Of even greater concern is the rhetoric. When the spokesman for the world’s most powerful nation appears to embrace misogyny and racism, he sets the stage for marginalization and inequality to thrive. This is where we need to be most vigilant, no matter where we live. President-elect Trump is at the crest of a rising tide of intolerant politicians. Espousing values of equality and inclusion will only carry us so far, we have to fight to protect them. If this election proved anything it was that casting a ballot isn’t enough. We can’t luxuriate in despondency, there is work to be done.
The author is a film producer and journalist and a former hedge fund COO. Twitter: @whats_cutting