What we learned from Trump
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
By the time you read this, the US will have voted in the next President. It will likely and hopefully be Hillary Clinton, defeating an opponent whose sheer incompetence alone might’ve killed us all. Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric, fascist overtones, and “outsider” approach have made this election the most ridiculous in modern history. I’m writing under the assumption that he was defeated this week. If the US did the unthinkable and actually made this man president, well, it was nice knowing you all, and I’m sure I’ll have something profanity-laced to say in the next issue.
Trump may have lost the election, but his influence, supporters, and image remains strong, perhaps more than ever before. If his loss was narrow, there is a slim chance he’ll run again in 2020, and we will go through this entire nightmare once more. Many supporters have threatened to induce violence and riots if he does not win. Likely, any serious action will quickly die out through apathy and law enforcement shortly after the election, but the brutal ideologies will remain.
Trump’s campaign and much of his popular support has been highlighted by the sheer racism and bigotry involved. Prejudice towards Muslims, immigrants, foreigners, Jews, Latinos, and African-Americans is prominent amongst his supporters and in many of his own comments. He was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and refused to disavow them straightaway. This campaign will go down in history as an unprecedented one that normalized white supremacy on a level not seen since the Civil Rights Movement. Racial tensions and prejudices are certainly common across the country, but the Trump campaign reminded us of how many Americans still refuse to acknowledge human rights and equality for all. Not all of his supporters are racist, but many are, and by showing support, they are condoning racism.
The Trump campaign shows global tensions that are reflected in other democratic areas. The Philippines have a newly-elected president quite similar to Trump in his actions and cult of personality. In Britain, the population has voted to exit the European Union in fear over immigration and globalization—with many supporting racism and violent revolution (Anti-Brexit MP Jo Cox was assassinated during the campaign). Far-right nationalist parties are gaining support and winning elections all across Europe. Trump is a powerful and extreme example of what happens when these sentiments are reflected, leading to millions of people demanding the rhetoric in the most powerful country in the world.
If we took away nothing else from this election, it’s that America really will come within striking distance of actually making Donald Trump the President. What seemed unbelievable not so long ago is now a terrifying reality. It shows the lines many are ready to cross to stand up for their political orientations, and how ugly a federal election can truly get. It shows that facts, media analysis, level-headed criticism, and rationality simply don’t matter to so many when it comes to politics.
The right candidate can say and do almost anything, and they will lose minimal support in the process. In January, before the primaries had begun, Trump said “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” This is probably not far from the truth. Trump has condoned and done a lot of horrible things, and people love it. If he shot someone, his supporters would somehow try to justify it.
With a serious Trump candidacy, it shows anything can happen in federal politics. A celebrity/actual fascist can run and be supported by millions. Campaigns run on extremism, nationalism, and fear-mongering will be tolerated and embraced by the mainstream. People you love and respect will flock to dangerous, ignorant policies and ideologies. These are far too common in America, and they will continue to impact the country in terrible ways. We may have won the battle against Trump, but the war against his legacy continues.