Dear reader, are you a teacher or a parent, trying to explain to your children the importance of the US election result today?
Me too. It’s hard, not because my kids don’t understand what sexism or racism is,, but because they are used to a safe world where we arbitrarily pick teams and root for them. They see politics as an extension of that. Usually it is.
Sometimes I ‘don’t like’ politicians; almost always I ‘mistrust’ them. Usually I am frustrated by the conventions of the political system that mean I can’t pick policies over people, that I have to align myself to a party when I don’t really feel represented by any of them. I always vote but rarely feel heard. I have been guilty of using hyperbole to describe politicians in the past or making cheap judgements about them. I have interpreted their bland political statements in the ways I find convenient. I have swallowed soundbites about them.
But this is different. I can’t know for sure, but I’m as certain as I can be that Trump has not been particularly misrepresented by the media (or certainly not in a negative way). I don’t just ‘dislike’ or ‘mistrust’ him. Regardless of the confines of the system he is operating in, I cannot see an argument that he is a good leader or a good politician, unless your narrow and outdated definition is one of aggression, bluster or empty yet strangely inarticulate rhetoric. Robbed of the hyperbole I have wasted on public figures in the past, I can only say that he is ‘dangerous’ or ‘ignorant’ or ‘a bigot’. But the confidence I have in using those terms is more absolute than I have ever had before.
This isn’t about the other team winning. It’s about a rich white old man winning in a world where rich white old men always win – same old story. But what makes this different is he nonchalantly unmasked the hatred his campaign was built on, said the insayable, threatened people and discriminated against them and provably lied to them and reviled them – dehumanised them – and got elected anyway. He isn’t just ‘not my preference’. He is everything I stand against. He is an embodiment of a retrograde step in global thought-progression, a beacon of what I don’t want my children or my pupils to become – and he’s now an international role model. He’s the playground bully on a pedestal, the immature dismissive heckler on a podium, the ultimate misogynist with a microphone.
I didn’t have the words or the articulacy to tell me kids this on the way to school today. When they asked me how I felt, the only urgency I could add was an expletive, the only summary I could summon was: ‘I’m fucking appalled.’
I pledge this:
As a teacher and a parent, every single time he airs these views, every ‘fact’ he pulls from his ass and every sexist comment he makes; every racist joke and every snide privileged remark, I will tell the next generation THIS IS BULLSHIT and explain exactly why.