The Fear of Malignancy
On Wednesday, November 9th, the world woke up with something viral. Many of us awoke with our stomachs feeling uneasy and nauseous. It was an affliction that seemed so inconsequential and benign when we first heard of it, but now we are crippled with the fear of its malignancy, for we have the unfortunate fate of being most vulnerable to its degenerative nature. Yet, past experience has taught us to fight with fervour, even though it may seem a daunting prospect. We will not lose hope.
Electing Donald J. Trump into the Oval Office is the equivalent of going to your psychologist for medical consultation when you are suffering from terminal cancer. He is a fraud who ran a campaign based on anti-establishment rhetoric and does not understand the complex nature of public administration. This is illustrated ever so perfectly by his possible refusal to pay corporate taxes for 18 years. Taxes: the source of revenue that provides American citizens with access to Social Security, Medicaid, and builds infrastructure including the US Interstate Highways, funds national security, and provides income and child tax credits. Having Trump and Pence in the White House is like the double whammy of finding out that not only are you not seeing an oncologist, you’re seeing a shrink who failed all of their biology prerequisites and somehow gained a license to practice. Your fate seems sealed.
Yet here we are with a spectacularly unfit, unstable President-Elect, and a religious-right Vice President-Elect. They are primed to lead the people of a nation – one whose people aspire for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ - to believe that their political body is beyond repair and that it can be remedied at the expense of the very communities whose back upon which it was built; women, the queer community, the disabled and racialized minorities – those who make up the true fabric of a diverse nation.
Instead of hitting a nerve, Donald Trump’s rhetoric was surprisingly accepted by a substantial portion of the electorate. Nearly half of all Americans united to "Make America Great Again," the implied promise to return the country to a time of prosperity and prominence. However, this so-called golden era that Donald Trump so fondly romanticizes never existed. Mid 20th century America was a time when Black people were institutionally, systemically, and often interpersonally segregated from white people, with layers of oppression so heavy on their backs that it was an accomplishment to see a minute increment of social mobility, let alone the ability to cast a vote for a President. It was an era when half the adult population was encouraged to home-make, be good wives to hard-working men, and not to worry themselves with the complicated, intellectual affairs of governance. It was a time of racial persecution of people of colour and the patriarchal subordination of women. America was never great; it was racist, oppressive, and misogynist. America was only great for privileged, cisgender, straight white men.
Adding salt to the wound has been the conflation of uninformed opinions and fake news with fact. A mob has formed and truth can no longer be heard. Maybe Plato was accurate in positing that democracies devolve into tyrannies when mob mentality overwhelms political wisdom and a populist autocrat is perceived as a champion of the people. While America is by no means a tyranny, it can be said that Mr. Trump is positioning himself to be an unpredictable demagogue who garners mass support by appealing to prejudices rather than employing rational thought. The initial results are in and he is providing some affirming results for Plato’s millenium-old hypothesis. It wouldn’t be the first time either.
Make no mistake, political correctness has a place in governance and diplomacy. Political correctness was once the bastion against subversive hate speech and prejudice. It meant that there was a standard upon which participants in the realm of politics must adhere to; sensitivity, decency, rationality, and justness. Popular opinion might lead you to believe that many of our elected representatives speak in veiled, centrist language that will avoid ruffling the feathers of the constituency. What is often overlooked is that politicians have a responsibility to not only those individuals that voted for them, but the entire citizenry. EVERYONE.
We have also heard the shouts to "drain the swamp." Yes, there is an actual problem with political elitism in Washington. The nation’s capital is a dark Casanova, sleeping with a bevy of Machiavellian enemies: Wall Street, political elitism, foreign powers violating human rights, etc. However, protests are not occurring across America because liberals are not in favour of remedying the systemic, capitalist flaw of catering to big business and the associated economic disenfranchisement of the working class. In fact, the majority of Democrats and liberals share the same sentiment: the pain of economic marginalisation. The ever-popular Bernie Sanders premised his Democratic primary platform on the economic inequality that the United States is facing. Accompanying concerns of class struggles, there is also understandable unrest and anxiety resultant from beliefs held and actions made by Trump, Pence, and those occupying potential cabinet appointments. Such beliefs and actions include the racial/religious profiling of people of colour, the defunding of organizations that allow women access to reproductive health care, the dismissal of police brutality as a real threat against Black Americans, the belief that sexual identity and orientation is a choice, and boasting about sexual assaulting women. As targets, we live in fear.
Subscribing to Trump’s promised America is implicit consent to authorize discrimination against women, people of colour, the queer community, the disabled, and any other group that has been subject to the President-Elect’s parasitic abuses. The political left is rising up because of moral reprehension. Trump, Pence, and those who have been appointment to key cabinet roles send a message that women and people of colour do not matter. This frightening prospect of increased institutional oppression could erase the tenuous steps the United States has made toward equality.
That fear is what has caused thousands of citizens to continue protesting in every major city across the United States. These protestors effectively told that their societal value does not equal that of people who have loudly declared their alignment to racial discrimination, misogyny, and bigotry. While many feel left out by Washington and are coping with more effects of economic globalization, there are millions of others who, every day of their life, have been left out and oppressed by the system by nature of their race, gender, ability, sexuality etc. These are the people who fight for social and political freedom every day, whether in courtrooms or on the streets, and are people who should not have their constitutional rights threatened once again.
The vulnerable bear no obligation to answer calls by politicians and commentators to “come together” and accept Trump as their president. They are the brave ones who know all too well that there never was a 'united' state.
America may have caught something viral, but it's not to late to fight it off with a prescribed dose of hope and perseverance.