Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Some thoughts from an outsider

It's been eight days.

Eight days since the United States elected a joke of a man to its highest political office. My immediate reaction was disbelief. Not stunned disbelief, but disbelief. I just couldn't imagine voters not turning out in record numbers to prevent a man supported by the KKK from assuming office. I couldn't imagine a world in which people disliked a smart, capable woman so much that a racist, misogynist seemed like an acceptable alternative.

I understand why a lot of people don't like Hillary Clinton. I get it. She's in the pocket of Wall Street and the old money elites that have always maintained power in the States. She's made some mistakes. (She's been in politics for 30 years; how could she not?) She's not Bernie Sanders. She's not left enough. She wasn't vocal enough about x, y, or z in the 1990s. And maybe she wouldn't have been good for the country. Maybe, as a clever video I saw today suggested, her presidency would have simply postponed the election of a terrifying political neophyte and prolonged the current problems facing America. And there are a lot of problems, from the militarization of police forces, to the murder of dozens of black men by police, to the stand off over the Dakota Access pipeline.

I'm not saying Canada's perfect. Not by a LONG shot. Our native population is treated abysmally. Their incarceration rates are worse than African-Americans', there are currently nearly a hundred boil-water advisories on first nations reservations, and the last residential school only closed in 1996. (If you don't know what a residential school is, please google it; it's an absolutely horrific means of cultural genocide that I still have a hard time believing existed until I was 13 years old.)

That all said, the United States are in trouble. And because the USA is in trouble, so are a lot of its allies, especially, Canada who is not only it's next-door neighbour, but (I believe) its second-largest trading partner after China. It's not just the economic impact that worries me, but the validation the Canadian racist right has been granted by Trump's election. The woman whose brainchild the report-your-neighbours-for-barbaric-practices hotline was, Kellie Leitch, is currently the front-runner for the Conservative Party leadership. That's a major party, our mainstream conservative party. That scares me. That she is cheered by Trump's election. That she believes this is a good thing for Canada. That she is shortsighted enough not to consider the devastating effects his presidency will have on both North America and the world.

Trump is supported by those who would 'make America white again' like it was ever a white person's country to begin with. He is cheered on by those who are too afraid, too ignorant and sheltered by their right wing rhetoric to see the damage a homogeneous society can cause. I'm not saying Trump's a white supremacist, I'm just saying he's supported by them, by those who believe that Hitler had the right idea. And if that doesn't scare you, I'm not sure what will before you're the one being carted off to the gas chambers with no one left to fight for you. Because rhetoric like means that no one is ever good enough, no one is ever pure enough. No one is ever really safe. First it will be the Mexicans and the Muslims, then it will be African-Americans and LGBTQ folks, then it will be the pro-choicers and the so-called socialists, and then it will be teachers and artists and playwrights. From what I've seen, the Jews are already seeing the writing on the wall. Their memories are long enough to know that this is no joke, that racist rhetoric never is. Not that any of those other groups is underestimating what Trump and his supporters are capable of. Everyone who is threatened by his regime is rightfully terrified. Those who aren't directly threatened, however, some of them are trying to pretend that this story can have a harmless ending.

I don't want you to move to Canada. Not because I don't love you, or I don't want Americans to find safety here, but because I want all the intelligent Americans I know (and I seem to only know intelligent Americans) to stand up and fight this. I want the USA to be better than what its elected. I want women and children to become engaged. I want men to open their minds and their eyes and take a good look at their privilege and use it to their advantage. I want young people to run for city council. I want more women to run for Senate. I want to see the Democrats who have been elected to do their damnedest to roadblock every single thing the Republicans try to do for the next four years.

I'm invested in your future, America, because we are all affected by it. You wanted to be the most popular kid on the block, now act like a leader.