Undisputedly, history has been made once again in the race to the White House.
My draft blog posts to follow the US elections both started like this, because undisputedly no-one like Donald Trump has ever been President of the United States. There is no one quite like The Donald, who has been dubbed the US’ first “reality-TV President.” But here we are. This is what we’ve got.
We’ve all been part of the media circus and looked on open-mouthed as the world’s most powerful nation elected a racist, sexual predator as its leader.
But here-in lies my first point. It wasn’t the whole nation that elected him, data from the ballot stations shows us that the voter turnout on election day was at a 20-year low. Just 55 percent of voting-age citizens turned out to cast their vote on Nov. 8.
So the larger message we can take away from this election? It’s time to take a long, hard look at a political system that is completely disconnected from voters as we see a rise of populist movements across the Western world – especially when such a large portion of voters still didn’t turn out for the man who promised to shake things up so much.
At EUPanelWatch, we campaign for more diverse and better debates, because we believe this is the way to keep people engaged, or to re-engage the population in political debates. If people can’t see their perspective represented and see the same viewpoints repeated over and over like broken records, why would they vote?
– It’s Only Four Years –
“It’s only four years,” a colleague said the week before the election.
The problem is that with such an unpredictable character, there’s no knowing quite what President-elect Trump will do when he takes office next January.
Will he withdraw the US from a global climate deal to cut the world’s emissions? Will he build his beloved wall on the Mexican border? Will he limit a woman’s right to choose? Who knows, really. Because that’s what he’s always been. Unpredictable. “Expect the unexpected,” is a phrase people have wanted to hear about their leaders at no point in history, ever.
But let’s try and see the positives….
Let’s not forget that over the last year a massive, massive fracture has been made in the ultimate glass ceiling. Hillary Clinton said following the election results that “although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, […] it’s got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before.”
Let women and girls – and men – remember that Hillary Clinton did what every professional woman has to do to get by in their employment: work at least twice as hard as her male counterparts. And this time, that wasn’t enough.
One friend said to me this week that there must be some sort of twisted joke to be made here about just how much better a woman has to be than a man to be President of the United States – I leave that to you, dear reader.
Clinton survived an electoral campaign that was dubbed one of the most vitriolic and misogynist in history, where a man who had lied, evaded taxes and faced allegations of sexual assault, was chosen over a qualified female candidate.
Clinton engaged in debate. She acknowledged her mistakes. She survived.
She was criticised by British media for “barking and braying.” Because, of course, the tone of someone’s voice is directly related to their political vision. The day after the election, the same media was questioning whether perhaps given how “corrupt” the Clintons are, perhaps the US is better off with Trump…exploring that would require a whole other blog post.
Clinton was even blamed for her husband’s infidelity.
There is much to take away from this US election and the current swell of populist politics. How, why and where did we go so, so wrong? But also, for a moment, it was possible that a woman could hold the most powerful political position on the planet.
Which means it could be possible again.
“Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue your own dreams,” Clinton told us on Wednesday.
That brings me to my second point. This is a time when your work in your own sphere of influence is more important than ever. Campaign for gender equality. Raise up the women around you. Volunteer and bring some engagement into your communities where we have become so disengaged from the political system.
The US election result has certainly put fire in our bellies at EUPanelWatch and if you want to engage with us, please get in touch. Because we’re stronger together.
Until next time, Trump.