Guest Column

Trump: the show is on

2016-11-09 12:49

(Steve Pope)

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WATCH: America won't collapse under Trump, says former diplomat

2016-11-09 11:06

Donald Trump will be inaugurated in January 2017. What will it mean for the United States? Watch.WATCH

I took a tranquilliser at 5.45 am this morning after watching the news for five minutes. And I am on to my third cup of coffee, even though I have a strict one-cup-a-day rule. The fact is that reality TV has just overtaken real life – and not in a good way. I can’t find the ‘off’ switch.

For the next four years at least we will have to deal with this orange creature on an ongoing basis. Bigotry and self-interest have won out over sanity and experience. And we in SA know exactly what that feels like, don’t we?

We also know what it’s like to be embarrassed in the international arena – we have had decades of practice in that. Since 1948 to be precise. There was brief interlude from 1992 to about the year 2000, but then our past experiences came in handy again.

Be careful what you wish for

Well, the Americans are about to find out what it means to elect someone without knowledge or experience, or respect, or finesse, or even basic manners, into a position of power, just because he promised a million things on which he can’t deliver. No one could. (See what that has done for the ANC.)

The problem is that the fallout (and I mean this literally) is not going to stop there. Without Bush and his policies, would Syria have been in the kind of state it is in today? Big, uninformed, selfish and hasty decisions have long-term consequences. And often not for the people who make them. I am sure Bush is sitting somewhere pleasant in a vacation home sipping cocktails. He is not the one in the Syrian refugee camp.

Could any woman have won?

One thing that I do think this reveals is the deep misogyny that still exists in the US. They are certainly not alone in this. Any halfway decent male Democratic candidate I suspect would have wiped the floor with Trump, but when push came to shove, the Americans had difficulty voting for a woman. Agreed, she might not have been the most likeable woman on earth, but no woman would have got where she was by being nice. And she certainly had the knowledge and the experience.

But, as the Americans are about to demonstrate to the world, you need to be careful what you wish for as you might get it. On a less kind note, ML Mencken, the late journalist and satirist, said that “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”.

We have to remember at this point, though, that just under half of Americans voted for Clinton. They must feel as devastated as many people in the rest of the world at the election outcome. And they have the added burden of embarrassment.

So, what do I say to my niece in Kentucky, who is 21 and frightened, when she asks me how one deals with something like this? I don’t know. The best I could do was to say that political processes are slow and often don’t affect those on the ground as quickly or as directly as one thinks. (Lame, I know) All one can do is to continue to be kind and respectful to everyone in your immediate environment, and live up to your own principles. One day at a time. And then, of course, there are tranquillisers.

The significance of the date has not escaped me: 9/11. Maybe in a sort of roundabout grim way, Trump is Osama bin Laden’s revenge on the American people. And, wherever he might be, he probably has the added satisfaction of knowing that they brought it upon themselves.

I look at Trump’s sunbed skin, his weird comb-over, and I listen to his Narcissistic, racist, uninformed, homophobic and misogynist rantings and I don’t think even the people who voted for him deserve what’s coming their way. No one does – and we didn’t even get to vote.

The world has gone mad. It is scary for everyone when self-interest and bigotry win over sense and reason. All the values democracy encourages – tolerance, reason, fairness, respect – all go flying out the window.

I look at the new president and all I can ask myself is the following: Was it for this that we crawled out of the primaeval mud? I sincerely hope not.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    us 2016 elections
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