The race is over – but it seems the losing side is unable to accept the results. Much as was the case with the UK’s Brexit referendum, what might be described as “the incumbent party” felt that the election had somehow been “stolen” from them. Unlike the case in the Brexit vote, one has to admit that Hillary Clinton’s supporters appear to have some justification for such a feeling, as the Electoral College system allows a Presidential candidate to garner a majority of Electors, even when his or her share of the popular vote is actually less. This is what has happened in the recent elections – but it is not the first time it has happened, and the Electoral College system, with all its inherent unfairness, has remained in place.
And that brings me to the point I wish to make. There is now a petition circulating, calling upon the Electors in states which voted Republican, to defy the decision of their voters and elect Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump, on the grounds that this is what the majority of US citizens want. That may be so – but the time to change the rules is between elections. One doesn’t go tearing up the rule-book simply because one failed to achieve the hoped-for result. (I could say the same for the anti-Brexiteers in the UK, whose immediate response to their loss in the Referendum was to demand another Referendum.)
In my last post, and on my Facebook page, I asked what makes a nation great and it became clear that for a good many people, a nation’s greatness lies in how it is perceived by outsiders.
What, then, are those of us who are not Americans but merely interested spectators, to make of the hissy fit to end all hissy fits, which has enveloped Clinton’s disappointed supporters?
What do you think it does to our perception of America, when students are granted deferment of exams, in order to attend “grief counselling” sessions?! Some of us may simply shrug and see it as the inevitable result of the spread of so-called “safe spaces” across American university and college campuses, where students are wrapped in cotton wool and “protected” from the merest mention of any opinion which conflicts with their own (I use the words “their own” advisedly, because more often than not, it is merely the parroted declamation of the current Politically Correct Group Thought).
Others – and I make no bones about being one of them – are outraged at such namby-pamby behaviour. In Israel, 18-year-olds are serving in the armed forces, often having to deal with the violent deaths, in war or to terrorism, of their friends – in short, with real cause for grief – only they don’t have the luxury of safe spaces or time off from exams to deal with their grief, but climb back up on the horse (or into their tanks or armoured cars) and get on with the business in hand.
What do the anti-Trump supporters hope to achieve by all their protests? Protests? No. Smashing shop windows and burning the American flag goes beyond mere protest. These are rioters, not protesters. Is this supposed to express their “love” for the America they claim the President-Elect is going to destroy?
Most infuriating of all are some of the reactions of so-called “celebrities”, which have gone viral on social media. A common theme seems to be that those who supported Trump are all racists/antisemites/misogynists/homophobes and that they themselves are grieving and in shock because they didn’t realise how many of their fellow Americans shared Trump’s racist/antisemitic/misogynistic/homophobic views. In short – they claim that they woke up on the morning of Wednesday November 9th to discover that America was not the nation they had believed her to be.
One of the most publicised was a letter by actress Lena Dunham, who writes:
“A lot of people have been talking about how we need to try to understand how this happened and what’s going on in the minds of the people who voted for Donald Trump. Maybe. Maybe. But maybe let’s leave that to the strategists, to the men in offices who need to run the numbers. It should not be the job of women, of people of color, of queer and trans Americans, to understand who does not consider them human and why, just as it’s not the job of the abused to understand their abuser.”
What is Ms. Dunham saying here? It’s clear enough. In her mind, the people who voted for Trump (all of them) are bigots/misogynists/racists/homophobes. In short – what Hillary Clinton famously (or infamously) described as “a basket of deplorables”. Hillary “generously” attributed the quality of deplorability only to half of Trump’s supporters, but many of her supporters insist that anyone who voted for Trump is “part of his bigotry“. Despite a slew of articles analysing the reasons why so many people voted for Trump – even people who, in the past, supported Obama and are clearly, therefore, not racists (this one, for example, by David Dayen of The New Republic, or this extraordinarily thoughtful and honest post by a 19-year-old college student blogger ) – the disappointed Clinton supporters, who expect to be mollycoddled and helped to deal with their grief over Trump’s win, are unwilling to extend the same understanding to those who voted for “the other side” and insist on painting them all as bigots/racists/antisemites/misogynists/homophobes. (See this one, for example.)
Yes, they are right. America is not the nation they had supposed it to be. But not because their fellow Americans (those who supported Trump) are all bigots and racists, but because millions of their fellow Americans are living in a completely different world, a world as described by Tori Sanders, a world unseen and unknown by the liberal and political elite. And it’s that mind-boggling arrogance, which even now refuses to see that, which refuses to acknowledge the hopes and fears of those Americans who don’t enjoy the wealth of California or the cultural advantages of New York, which is likely to cost the Democrats the election in four years time as well.
I spoke of hissy fits. What are we, the dispassionate observers who are not Americans, to make of the spiteful calls to boycott members of the President-Elect’s family? The call by one Sophie Theallet ( a fashion designer, apparently, although I had never heard of her before this) to fellow designers to refuse to dress the future First Lady, Melania Trump, for example? Now, quite apart from the fact that, as far as I know, Ms. Theallet has not been invited to dress her, as a former model and wife of a multi-millionaire, Mrs Trump is, I am quite sure, perfectly capable of dressing herself and stands in no need of free dresses. Ms. Theallet herself has much more to gain (in free publicity) from dressing the First Lady than Mrs Trump has to lose from not being dressed by a hypocritical fashion designer who loudly proclaims: “The Sophie Theallet brand stands against all discrimination and prejudice….. As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles. I will not participate in dressing or associate myself in any way with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.”
Ms. Theallet appears to have some difficulty in practicing what she preaches, however.
In refusing to dress Melania Trump because of Donald Trump’s supposed racism, sexism and xenophobia, she has declared to all the world that Melania is no more than an adjunct of her husband.
Could there be any greater manifestation of sexism?
One final thought. Today, millions of Americans will be sitting down with their extended families to celebrate Thanksgiving. From articles I have read, it appears that many families have been so deeply divided by this election that they don’t feel they can even sit down over the Thanksgiving turkey with family members who voted for the opposing candidate.
To those, I say: Remember this. You can change your President every four years.
Family is forever.