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 happenÂ to you. I watched the U.S. elections lastÂ month, from my retrospectively myopicÂ vantage point in New York where everyone I knewÂ was ready to celebrate a victory for democracy, forÂ women, for progressive liberalism and for history.Â But America made history by thwarting us and crowning a realityÂ TV host, ostensibly tax-skirting businessman, serial groper andÂ nativist with a penchant for walls. In denial until the last, theÂ country was blind to the fact that in Donald Trump, a group ofÂ people who felt left behind had found a voice. In their vote theyÂ gave the middle finger to the establishment.
The Democalypse has had a funereal fall out for the other half.Â People are grappling with what to tell their daughters, whether theirÂ families will be torn apart or how to feel safe in Trumpland. As ”˜NotÂ My President’ signs sailed along Fifth Avenue buoyed by thousandsÂ of protestors, I thought, isn’t this how the Arab Spring began””the people marching against demagoguery. Deep breath, put it inÂ perspective. As we see America turn on her axis pivoting away fromÂ globalization, inclusion and progressive ideals, how must we react?
Initial denial has given way to a furious quest. As if on theÂ psychoanalysis couch, America is undergoing an unrelenting self-examination.Â How much of this was attributable to Hillary being aÂ ”˜flawed’ candidate, to Assange, to the FBI? Where did the pollstersÂ go wrong? Why did more than 50 percent of white women voteÂ Trump? Is the conservative media to blame for propping up TrumpÂ or is the liberal media to blame for mocking him and firing up hisÂ supporters? The questions will write history books. MeanwhileÂ in just a few weeks President Trump will follow the footsteps ofÂ Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan and Obama into the Oval Office.
During his meteoric rise to the presidency, Donald TrumpÂ ran a campaign on toppling almost every aspect of U.S. policy.Â He threated to deport millions, scrutinize Muslims, ”˜cancel’ theÂ Paris Climate agreement, rescind trade agreements and withdrawÂ ”˜America’s cloak of protection’ by bringing troops back. We wouldÂ do well to temper fear with the pragmatism of examining what’sÂ possible and shift energy from despair to defiance. To take just oneÂ example, Trump might not be so eager to ”˜rip up’ the Iran nuclearÂ deal once he fully grasps the repercussions of a global arms race.Â Simply put the version of events where President Trump ”˜builds aÂ wall’, ”˜takes the oil’, ”˜destroys ISIS’ and ”˜makes America great again’Â seems more probable as Marvel’s Tony Stark than as sitting U.S.Â President.
This is not to say that the panic is overblown. While Trump’sÂ policy resolves will face a backlash, they still signal a tone ofÂ intolerance and closed borders that hang a dark cloud over LadyÂ Liberty and dim the beacon for the rest of the world. Of even greaterÂ concern is the rhetoric. When the spokesman for the world’s mostÂ powerful nation appears to embrace misogyny and racism, he setsÂ the stage for marginalization and inequality to thrive. This is whereÂ we need to be most vigilant, no matter where we live. President-electÂ Trump is at the crest of a rising tide of intolerant politicians.Â Espousing values of equality and inclusion will only carry us so far,Â we have to fight to protect them. If this election proved anythingÂ it was that casting a ballot isn’t enough. We can’t luxuriate inÂ despondency, there is work to be done.
Soleil Nathwani is a New York-based Culture Writer and Film Critic. A former Film Executive and Hedge Fund COO, Soleil hails from London and Mumbai.