Do you know what? It’s no fun to be a young left-winger. Having spent the last few years learning of my political identity, I’ve been dealt blow after blow. First Cameron won that unexpected majority (you are joking me), then the UK voted Brexit (you are seriously joking now), and to top it all off, Emperor Palpatine – sorry – Donald J. Trump is now the President of the United States of America (you really are fucking kidding now).
But what exactly does the ascension of Trump to commander-in-chief mean? Well, combined with the other two aforementioned results, pollsters are soon to be out of a job. Labour and Conservatives were neck and neck in the polls, yet Cameron got enough for a majority; Remain was comfortably ahead of Leave in the polls, yet Leave won a slim majority; Hillary Clinton’s election as America’s first female leader seemed all but a given.
I think anyone could be forgiven for assuming Hillary would win. Trump was such an outsider, never having held political office, building a campaign on divisiveness. America had elected its first Black president in Obama, and it seemed that they were finally willing to accept their first female president. Hillary was politically to Obama’s right anyway, so it’s not like socialism-plus was on the ballot. Instead, just like Brexit, right-wing nationalism and the fear of others won out. And we all know what happens when right-wing nationalism gains control of government.
As much as I hate to agree with Nigel Farage on anything, he is right when he says that both Brexit and Trump were as a result of the “ordinary person” rising up and hitting back against the establishment. And unfortunately for Hillary, she is the personification of the Washington establishment for many voters.
It is hard not to feel depressed at the political-nightmare-cum-Dante’s-Inferno 2016 was. A man who epitomises everything I despise – bigotry, racism, sexism, xenophobia, preying on that which makes us different, environmental destruction – you name it, is supreme leader. But the scarier thing is knowing that millions of people in the US, and here in the UK, also agree with and embody these regressive ideologies: the so-called “basket of deplorables”. Now, I know that not every Trump or Leave voter is a racist or a bigot, I’m not that naïve or blind sighted, but one only has to look at the rise in hate crime (or at least reporting of hate crime) post June 23rd to see that something is wrong.
The fact that Hillary won more physical votes than Trump and yet did not win the presidency is an affront to democracy, in the same way that first-past-the-post and a Tory government elected on just 36.8% of the vote is. Right-wing Republicans now hold power of the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary soon enough now Trump has selected his Supreme Court nomination, and is going about undoing Obama’s legacy. So long, Obamacare. The fear of what will happen to LGBTQ+, women’s, and minority rights; abortion; gun control; immigration (#MuslimBan) is immense and all too real.
Ever the stateswoman though, what remains with me is how Hillary conceded with respect and grace. I found her concession speech even more moving than Obama’s now infamous “Change has come to America” acceptance speech. It’s about looking to the future, striding on, not holding back, and has genuinely inspired me to want to make a change and a difference more than anything I’ve seen in the world of politics for a long time: “To the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this … this loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is, it is worth it!”
Hillary, I won’t.