How can I even begin to discuss the issues that not only came to the forefront of, but also stunned stunned our collective consciousnesses last week? As you well know, from the conversations within our family, Donald Trump is to become the next president of the United States. How can I explain to you that a being like him – who disrespects women and woman’s rights, who is a racist, who is a liar, who abuses everyone who criticizes him, who is never prepared, who admits he never reads, who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax – now has control of the most powerful nation on the planet? How can I tell you to believe that you will live in a world where you will be respected as an equal?
The explanation on his rise to power involves the complex web of issues, that we as humans built ourselves, facing every single human being. At the very core of which, probably lies the unnerving question, what are we doing with our lives? What made Donald Trump successful was his ability to tap into the raw emotions of the ordinary American, the very existential crisis that they face. Their fears, their helplessness in the face of a changing world, were exploited. Though an election is the ultimate political expression, this time it was no longer about Democrats or Republicans. Donald Trump is as much a Democrat as he is a Republican. He just pulled off one of the greatest political heists and manipulations in history.
This is not an isolated incident either. If you were paying attention to the world news, as much as a teenager like you can or care, you would know that the United Kingdom voted through a public referendum to withdraw from the European Union, for many of the same reasons that got Donald Trump the presidency. It was no longer truly about policy, rather, it was about the people’s fears and anger towards a stagnant condition of life.
The craziest part in all of this, is the blatant disregard for morals and facts. Donald Trump should have been disqualified and dismissed on moral and factual grounds alone. Yet people, many people, were willing to ignore his transgressions and vote him into power. Many people dismissed facts or refused to register them. Without any basis, they believe that he will improve their lots in life, because he brought along with him a vague promise to make things great again and a clear target: the others.
In this way, hatred was solidified, taught, and spread among the people. Think about it, how can you truly hate something you don’t know? I am willing to bet that a large number of people who voted for Donald Trump and believes in his hateful rhetoric have not interacted outside their own social circles and niches. Many probably never had meaningful interactions or friendships with Hispanics or Muslims (or any of the other minority groups currently at risk).
Every single one of us is a fault for handing the reins of power over to someone so abominable and dangerous. Many of those who oppose him did not take him seriously, others did not bother educating others outside their social circles. Those who support him are at fault for their ignorance and their willingness to scapegoat. Then there are others who protest voted; that is self-explanatory. All of us live in our own echo chambers, repeating the views and ideas of those like us. So, the divisions grow, the hatred amplifies, and so on. Throughout history, it is exactly when a nation is divided that someone out to destroy all that is holy and sacred gains power.
Now that his victory is a fact, we can only hope that the American democratic institutions, established and continued to be refined since 1776, have enough checks and balances to hold back the worst. If unchecked, much of the humanitarian progress we made will be reversed, which means further divisions within the social fabric with deepening ethnic and religious tensions. If unchecked, much of the progress we made towards tackling environmental problems will be reversed, which means we might actually become extinct because Earth has become uninhabitable to humans.
Lastly, none of the policies proposed will actually help the majority. The problems that people expected to be solved or ameliorated, they are not his concerns.
Anyway, the point of all this is to encourage you to talk to people from all different kinds of backgrounds and to engage with people who disagree with you. I used to do it all the time. I was brash and brazen, unafraid to argue, but recently less so. Perhaps it is time to reverse course. Without proper dialogue, the world becomes blind to itself. Problems fall to the wayside and selfish manipulators become powerful.
Maybe you will never be as political as any of your siblings, but remember, always to keep an open mind and act when you need to. Your future depends on it.