On leaving D Bar at 5am on the fateful night of Tuesday 8 October – staggering through the sleet, perhaps from tipsiness, perhaps from sheer exhaustion – probably both, Nouse’s own Editor Luke Rix-Standing turned to me and sighed: “Well, if nothing else, at least our columns will be a doss this time round.”
Honestly, he couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m pretty sure that everything to say about the President Elect has been covered – whether that be in full by the BBC, in 140 characters by the Independent’s new social media goblins, or in ethically-dubious backstage snaps by the Daily Mail; we’ve heard pretty much every opinion, and a hell of a lot of rhetoric. But there’s still no avoiding the subject – much like impending essay deadlines, dreaded Secret Santa draws, and a concoction of nasty viruses unique to mid-November – we have to face The Donald, and face The Donald we will.
I think what has been most striking about this week is the essential normality of it. While the majority of us sit staring blankly into space, anticipating the Armageddon, Trump goes about his business in exactly the manner we expected him to. Broken promises? Sure. Big hollow displays of wealth and dominance? Absolutely. Oh, is that Nigel Farage? Of course! Trump broke every rule before he got into power, so it’s difficult for him to shock us now – and it’s likely we’ll experience a come down before we’re met with any truly significant upsets.
And what that’s meant is that we, as predominantly young Europeans, (… Ex-Europeans? Too soon?) are left in a kind of limbo. There’s a kind of blanket over the world – one of those very thin blankets, like a shitty blind, which doesn’t entirely do its job. Everything is muffled yet discernible – gloomy but visible. We’re in shock, essentially, and the world is spinning.
When I was on holiday in Chicago this summer, my friends and I decided to spend a day Downtown, that evening heading to a Starbucks to grab something to eat before catching the monorail home. Here an older lady (we later coined her ‘Doreen’), looking slightly deranged, pounced on us and asked our opinions on the current political situation.
Two hours and several amused glances from the wait staff later, we gave up what had become a full blown debate about Making America Great Again. Doreen would start on a subject, spout some passionate rhetoric, lose her place, thump her fist on the table, and choose another angle. She’d loudly claim that she wanted to stick it to big business, and when we politely reminded her of Donald Trump’s entrepreneurial legacy, she’d blindly repeat the same phrase over again: “He’s learning, you see; he’s learning.” She was convinced that homeless people were con artists, immigrants were thieves, and ethnic minorities were not to be trusted, and she was an open advocate of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. But more shocking than any of this was her resistance to logic, and to truth. I’ve never seen such a perfect illustration of the post-information age. Facts bounced off this woman – it was as if she was wrapped in a silver blanket, conducting emotion and reflecting reason. And that, more than anything she said, was truly frightening.
It’s hard to argue with feeling; it’s like trying to catch water in a net. As I’ve decided I give no shits anymore, I think I’ll leave it there. But I hope to God someone has a game plan.