If you’re surprised that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States of America, then that is part of the problem.
This American election wasn’t a battle between Trump and Clinton, so to speak, nor between Republicans and Democrats; this was, to state the obvious, a battle between ideologies, a cultural battle of identities.
The left is always right
As Trump took state after state through the day and into the night, Hillary supporters stood and watched in shock. How could half the population of the US vote for a man who was, ostensibly and surely, a vile individual?
How could they vote for (and here, the list is re-listed, as it has been down countless times before) a bigot, a racist, an ineloquent buffoon, a sexist, a misogynist?
Of course, they said, the whites and the uneducated would vote for him. Of course, a huge part of the working class population will vote for him. But surely, that is not enough to become the president of the United States?
The problem is that you’re thinking they voted for a person who was, in fact, a racist, misogynistic bigot.
In fact, they voted for no such person. It is the way that these terms have been defined that makes it seem that way. These definitions, whether we agree or not, are fluid.
A Trump supporter doesn’t see the banning of Muslims as being bigoted, he’s merely thinking that it makes sense because they seem to be all the terrorists.
A follower of Trump doesn’t view his “grab ’em by the (bleep)” as being sexual assault, they think yeah, that is exactly how us men think because they, too, have thought those things even though it’s unlikely that any of them have done those things.
It was, in fact, rather inevitable that the confidence with which the left has continuously chosen to feel ever so righteous and superior to the lesser educated, lesser aware about their own ideologies, would lead to a reactionary movement.
It is, to me, not the ideologies, per se, which led to this reaction, but the way these ideologies were persistent: Through self-righteousness, through the media, through suppression of free speech. It is the double standard that the “marginsalised” majority, the silent one, has predictably found so obnoxious.
College campuses are a good example of this: The political correctness, the intolerance for dissenting viewpoints, the unfair dichotomy and assurance of what is right and wrong, these have all accumulated and culminated into a vast majority of the population, who are white men (not exclusively, of course), to become resentful and bitter.
These people (and I must reiterate, the issue is not whether what they believe is right or wrong) have constantly been bombarded by the media and popular figures within the media telling a story they cannot identify with.
“Where is our narrative?” they asked. “Don’t we get a voice?” They sat and listened, as anger festered in their hearts, about this so-called white male “privilege,” about how America was a free country and we should be able to say what we want unless of course, it’s against so-and-so-race and so-and-so gender, but sure, criticism of Christianity seemed to be okay. They listened to people pretend as if the decision was ever so obvious when they saw absolutely nothing so obvious in the matter; in fact, the opposite, to them, was the opposite.
No individual likes to feel down and dirty and judged. And the left has made the terrible mistake not of thinking that it is right, but knowing that it is.
Donald Trump’s win should, at the very least, highlight how wrong everyone was. A true underdog story
Anyone but Hillary
The biggest and most pressing problem was the democratic candidate. To paraphrase one of the saner celebrities during the election, Susan Sarandon: Hillary won’t change anything. This is bigger than that.
Hillary’s “been there, done that” aura didn’t do much for the average American. Bernie, most of us would agree, would’ve been a much better candidate for a people who are absolutely fed up with the way things have been going.
Obama had promised change, but had he really changed anything? Granted, it was because he had constant opposition from a Republican senate, but the average American couldn’t care less about why a person was unsuccessful, at least in terms they could define. Obama, coupled with Trudeau (the left’s current poster-child) have only been handsome men and smooth talkers. What had they done, apart from being ever so cool and ever so hip?
Even if Trump was making mistakes, mistakes are merely a sign of being human. The epitome of the politician that is Hillary Clinton, though she tried her utmost, couldn’t, no matter how much she tried, be a man (or woman) of the people.
And if you think that the hatred Hillary garnered was gender-centric, that too is a problem. Democrats turned on her when Bernie left, not because she was a woman, but because they were weary and tired, much like the rest.
Anything but this, they said. Anything but the same old, anything but a carbon copy of a story we’ve been reading since God knows when. This is a reactionary age, and the same old wasn’t going to fly.
Are you even listening?
Donald Trump’s win should, at the very least, highlight how wrong everyone was. A true underdog story, in which every pundit and expert was wrong, from the beginning of the Republican nomination race to his resounding victory.
It should highlight the fact that sticking stubbornly to an opinion doesn’t make it right on either side, and that the bubble of liberalism that so many of us had been living in has burst.
America as we know it hasn’t ended. A country isn’t its image, it isn’t the picture it portrays to the world. An image is temporary, much like the wavering sentiments of a diverse population.
So many of us echoed this sentiment: “I can’t think of one person who genuinely supports Trump and his policies.” This makes it clear that the elite only knows itself, and pats each other on the back while, in a democracy, no matter how educated you are, how powerful, each vote is equal, from the most illiterate to the most bigoted.
The left should’ve listened to the pulse that beat through America’s heart. It was too busy listening to each other.
SN Rasul is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.