The results of the American presidential election have left me in a state of disbelief and uncertainty. Though November 9th started with a sunrise, as every other day, it felt more like an eerily realistic dream where something isn’t quite right. I know the results to be true, but believing for so long that this result couldn’t possibly happen, I’m still waiting to wake up. Perhaps I should have known better. The fact remains that I am now rocked, truly concerned for the state of the world my children will inherit. I’m Canadian, living a very privileged and comfortable life. I can only begin to imagine how those who have been openly and repeated targeted by Trump and his supporters are feeling today.
I did two things I’ve never done today. First, I told my daughter that the new president is not a good person. I would not do this in any other circumstance, but she asked who he was while watching me scroll through my news feed and my emotions got the better of me. I wish I could explain to her in some more nuanced way that I can’t fully make a judgement about him as I’ve never met him but he espouses ideas and actions set to limit the rights of many innocent people and thus we view him unfavourably, but that’s a little beyond her comprehension level. Luckily, her favourite comic book series ran a story paralleling the presidential race, so she could understand some of our concern. Second, I wrote to my member of parliament. I was feeling helpless but wanting to take some sort of action to help right the wrong, as it were. Of course, there is nothing he, nor I, can do to change the result down south, but there are things he can do in our own federal government. I want my voice to be heard, but more importantly, it is now, more than ever, so important to be aware of what our elected officials are doing and ensure they are acting in the interests of the constituents. A common theme surfacing during the post election analysis is citizen disenfranchisement and distrust of the political machine. We must also keep in mind that if we do not engage, as is our right, and leave politics to its own devices, this deepens the divide between the “elites” and the “prols”. To be clear, I do not intend to blame the victims and there are innumerable systems in place that make it difficult for marginalized people to have their voices heard. That is not true for me, so how can I stand by and assume someone else will get engaged and fix our societal woes while I turn back to my comfortable white, middle class world?
To those who voted for Trump out of desperation, I didn’t understand at first, but I’m starting to. I don’t agree – especially as so many of his promises are ill-prepared short term solutions at best – but I can see how one could feel so much like life as we know it is being ripped away that we cling to whatever will bring it back.
To those who voted to Trump for radical change, or as some are saying, to burn this thing to the ground, I hear the frustration but there are better ways to get rid of the captain than sinking the ship with all the passengers on board.
To those who voted Trump because they agree with his values and because he “says what we’re all thinking”, in that statement alone you’ve said enough about yourself that I cannot respect your values or opinions.
To those who were hoping Trump would not win, my heart goes out to you.
To the smug Canadians watching this unfold from above the 49th parallel, basking in the glow of our handsome young Prime Minister and taking in all the free health care we can get, don’t for one minute think that Trump-style politics couldn’t happen here. One member of Parliament, Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopeful, has already expressed her desire for his message to make its way north. We are not immune simply because we have more than two political parties and because we’re so polite. Engage, make your values heard, be aware of those who cannot speak for themselves and work to ensure ALL Canadians have the opportunities and basic necessities that currently only some of us enjoy.