What Does Kerra Say?: Why what happened matters
Credit: MELISSA NOVACASKA
Understanding what is going on in the U.S. and around the world isn't easy, but taking action and not letting fear and hate outrun helping others with compassion is a step to relieve yourself from what's happened to the world, since President Donald Trump stepped into office.
Though I could go on and recap what I missed writing about in the past few months, that would take way too much time, and I am only allotted a few hundred words per week. No way could I mange to fit in all the scandals, all his political gaffes or his extremely unpresidential behaviour in that amount of print space. And frankly, I don’t want to dive deep into his strange behaviour any more than I have to.
With that being said, looking back at Trump’s behaviour isn’t the most critical thing to do right now, though I’d like us all to have a small moment of silence for those poor souls who have to report on his daily tweets and unpredictable nature in the media.
What is more important right now is to figure out just how the hell we got here.
After months of staying out of the spotlight, Hillary Clinton released her memoir, What Happened, which focuses on her run against Trump in the 2016 election.
I’ll admit that I am excited to read this book, but I’ll also admit that it will inevitably be an extremely biased portrayal of what happened during those months in her campaign. It’s difficult to fact check on her private experiences, or even how she interpreted certain events during this time. In the end it is just Clinton’s opinion, though an incredibly intelligent and self-reflective one. You can disagree with her politics, but it’s tough to argue that this woman who was President Obama’s Secretary of State for four years isn’t brilliant.
What is more important for us to do than to focus on what Trump has done in the past week or to focus on what Clinton herself could have done differently to prevent this outcome, is to take a hard look at ourselves and figure out how we got to this place, a place where we let fear win over reason.
Trump ran on an anti-establishment platform, saying he would “drain the swamp”, or clear out all of the “political insiders” from Congress, those he believed had been corrupted by the power of politics. A self-proclaimed billionaire himself, Trump did not associate himself with these politicians and in many ways, his antics were totally opposite from what Republican voters were accustomed to. Whether or not you agreed with what he said (and let’s be real here, he said a lot of terrible things during his campaign), you can’t deny his ability to get himself noticed.
Clinton ran with an opposing platform. As someone who many believed represented the epitome of “political insiders”, she ran her campaign as someone who understands how the game of politics is played and that her knowledge and expertise would help her navigate the treacherous waters that is the divided American political landscape.
Instead of wanting to work within this system, Trump wanted to destroy it (which gives me some Game of Thrones flashback chills… “I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel”). And to millions of people who felt marginalized by the political system that had let them down, this sounded like a great idea; destroy the very structure that destroyed their families and livelihoods.
Trump’s election night victory did not come out of nowhere. Clearly there were millions of Americans who were not happy with their situation in life. Trump made these people feel heard, told them whatever he knew they wanted to hear in order to earn their vote. And now that he’s won? He hasn’t drained the swamp, hasn’t built a wall, hasn’t repealed the Affordable Care Act (thanks to many Republicans who voted against their own party) and hasn’t delivered on his promise that “we’re going to win so much you’ll get tired of winning”. Spoken like a true fake populist.
As difficult as the current Trump situation may be, America is not the only place in the world that should be worried about the rise of destructive politics.
For the first time in decade, extreme right-wing political parties have earned seats in Parliament in Germany, though Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term. It doesn’t take a history expert to know what happened the last time a far-right political movement took over Germany. And even in our own small corner of the world, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam protesters are gaining momentum in London, with local protests ending in arrests due to violence.
We’re living in a time where we are letting fear beat out rational thought. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The more you read about the world, the more you learn about the people and cultures around you, the more open you are to new experience and new people, the more you try every day to do good in the world, that is how we overcome fear and hate. We do this by not ignoring our faults, but by actually fixing them.
America did not do so well when presented with this challenge. I can only hope that during the next Canadian election cycle we don’t fall for the same things.