“You’re gonna get sick and tired of winning! But you know what, we’re gonna win some more.”
And win they did. It was painful to witness states go Red one by one two nights ago. Every electoral college garnered by The Bigot was accompanied by a pang of desperation and horror; an intolerable contraction of the chest. Crossing the bridge back to Brooklyn, I got a glimpse of The Demagogue’s face smeared across the Empire State Building. It’s just another one of your Lynchian nightmares... it’ll be over soon, I thought. But the morning of the November 9th brought along with it the unfathomable truth, and forced us all to deal with what is now a clear and utter fact.
‘Things might not be so bad’, is what many have said to me today. Mostly those who live outside the US. ‘The presidency will tame him and force him to tone down his madness’. It’s possible, I said. But the problem is that what’s happening isn’t only about The Orange Man, but the throngs that got him elected; and once such a movement begins to mobilise it becomes extremely hard to tame, partly because there’s no satiating their appetite. I don’t believe His supporters would be satisfied with any legislation or action taken to alleviate their pain or address their financial concerns; no physical or material solutions could talk them down of the tree they’ve climbed. Right now they seek to vent and blame and, some, to establish the dominance of their ‘race’. So, no, I don’t think things would suddenly improve even if The Big D were to cater to the needs of the average citizen in total defiance of the rusty establishment, because underneath the surface lies a much deeper, more primal and ugly source of anger.
Can I say that all 59.5 million Americans who voted for The Bully are ignorant? No. Can I say that tens of millions of Americans’ views are limited to their own personal drama and pain? Yes, I can say that. Can I say that a sizeable portion of this country fails to learn from history and past mistakes? Yes. Can I say that an overwhelming number of voters are oblivious to the world outside of the US (or even their own state) and fail to assess the big picture? Yes. Can I say that millions across the country chose not to critically and thoroughly analyse the statements and promises made by The Con Man they portrayed as their saviour? Absolutely. Can I say that human beings are inherently prone to follow demagogues who ostracise and Other groups of people they claim are responsible for all of society’s ills? Yes, oh, yes. I can also say that a tragically high number of Americans fail to realise that bigotry and xenophobia are contagious, and that neither will eventually mend the institutional flaws that burden their lives.
I know New York won’t remain a ghost town for long. I know that the silent subway cars will soon be filled with commotion and noise, and that those who cry in the streets will dry their tears and go about their busy lives. We are comforted by the notion that life goes on, and that sooner or later the tension will subside and things will go back to normal. But what if the status quo we so desperately long for entails having a bigot as a president? A hater as a vice president? An administration that openly permits and encourages acts of violence and intolerance? Even if the apocalypse won’t arrive, are we willing to accept a reality in which hatred and division are frequent facts of life? After yesterday, I’m no longer satisfied with shaking my head with disgust at a John Oliver video that reminds me occasionally how absurd things are. I’m no longer satisfied with obtaining momentary relief through visceral Facebook posts or Tweets. I sincerely hope that enough of us will draw a collective moral limit we believe cannot be crossed, and actively advocate for tolerance. I hope enough of us protest, on a regular basis, against the wave of bigotry that rages through the country. I hope we won’t succumb to idle sarcasm. And I deeply hope that people do all in their power to make sure that voices of reason echo louder than shrieks of anger and fear.
Words by Yair Oded