There’s an upside to the elevation of Donald Trump to the most powerful position in the world, writes Nicolle White.
From publicly mocking a journalist’s disability, to calling a lawyer who asked for a breast pump ‘disgusting’, Trump built his presidential campaign on hate, fear and degrading minorities. He referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists, said laziness was ‘a trait in blacks’, and insulted women globally by repeatedly suggesting their worth lay solely in their appearance, not to mention the time he said Megyn Kelly ‘had blood coming out of her whatever’ after she grilled him in a debate, showing the mental capacity of your first boyfriend who asked ‘Are you on your period?’ when you’re trying to have a serious conversation.
Despite this, On Tuesday the 8th of November Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.
But you already know this. After all, the world was in disbelief and the resounding outcry was immediate and loud. Demonstrators took to the streets across 52 American cities, chanting “Not my president!” as across the country, highways were shut down and streets lit up with flames.
Donald Trump’s smug face was plastered over the front of newspapers and dominated televisions globally. Even those looking to escape the madness in social media were inundated with hundreds of memes.
Things calmed down as Americans joined the rest of the world to bask in the comparable glory of an Obama administration. We crossed our fingers and hoped that somehow, something would stop the man that has insulted the human rights of so many from becoming arguably the most powerful man in the world.
Aside from the fear of having someone who confuses the country’s greatest modern tragedy with a convenience store in charge of the nuclear codes, there was a real fear that Trump’s triumph would lead to an acceptance of racism, hate and further isolation of already vulnerable communities. How could you possibly tell your kids that it’s not okay to make fun of someone for their disability or call women fat and ugly, when the president does? How could you reassure your Muslim sister that they’re a valued member of the community when so many people voted for a man that vowed to indiscriminately ban immigration from seven largely Muslim countries?
But on January 20th 2017, the inevitable happened. The man whose opinions are somehow more intolerable and obnoxious than his sherbie coloured face went from being president elect to the fucking president (It just doesn’t get any easier to read does it?).
Once again, the people of the United States took to the streets, this time in record numbers. The women’s march saw a huge five million punters hit the streets. America and the world had spoken, they would not take Trump’s hate filled regime lying down.
And so began a new era. One where complacency gave way to political activism. One where good news stories are creeping back into the media. One where comedians, musicians and artists began to use their platform to increase education and understanding. One where companies are happy to take a political stand, and individuals are willing to walk on the street or protest in airports to get their message heard.
From 97 companies – including Apple, Google and Facebook – filing against Trump’s immigration ban to regular subway commuters banding together to remove Nazi symbolism from a train, 2017 has seen almost everyone come down from the political fence and stand up for what they think is right. Hell, even Kim Kardashian stood up against Trump’s immigration ban on Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong, the current political climate is a scary time to be alive, particularly for those who respect human rights. We’re less than a month into the tragedy that is Trump’s presidency and already things look bleak.
Trump’s government introduced ‘alternative facts’ that would make Orwell spin in his grave, stopped federal funding to any international non-government agency that offers advice on abortion, reinstated work on the Dakota Pipeline and blocked travellers from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days. It’s been a terrifying two weeks.
But for all the dispair, there’s also a huge amount of hope. The public’s response to Trump’s horrific policies show they will not take this lying down. It seems everyone is focused on what he is doing, and no-one is afraid to call him out on it. Hopefully this ignited sense of communal political activism is only the start of what’s to come.