We need to change the way we talk about politics

I’ll remember the morning Donald Trump was elected as the morning I cried while stirring the porridge. Some people will say I am exaggerating. I can only hope they’re right.

The Ku Klux Klan are celebrating, as is the anti-abortion brigade. Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, the friends of Brexit – these are the people who feel as if they’re on the right side of history in this.

People say that feminism has gone too far, but a man who talks of “grabbing [women] by the pussy” has just been elected to the White House. People say that white lives matter, as the new President of the United States of America prepares to build a wall between ‘us’ and ‘them’, between those born with a right to the American dream and those who need to get out.

I think we need to change the way we talk about politics. This is what happens when politics becomes a financial transaction, when we swap votes for promises of personal gain. When we talk about what’s happening in my back garden, in my wallet, what imagined threats there are to my personal safety, we erase a reality about the bodies across the Mediterranean Sea, about backstreet abortions and those who couldn’t care less about a wallet in the first place.

Trump’s American dream may boast about unity, but it suffers from a severe dearth of solidarity. This is not the President of a world where we take responsibility for each other as citizens.

I think we need to change the way we talk about politics, but not just politics. All this #NotAllMen and #WhiteLivesMatter – this is what has become of it. Do you laugh at the talk of safe spaces and trigger warnings? Do you think gender neutral pronouns are over the top? Do you joke about how feminists need to take a chill pill? Well the joke is on you. You have put your discomfort with the things you don’t understand above the safety of those less privileged than you. Just like the Trump voters.

Maybe you’re also of the opinion that it was all the same, that whatever the outcome of this election it would have been a disaster. But say that to the face of a Mexican in a southern state. Say that to someone with a ‘pussy’.

I think we need to change not just the way we talk about politics, but how we do politics. I look at the friends who supported another alternative, and I wonder how they feel; I wonder if they realise that those alternative votes make the difference between a bad, neoliberal first-ever woman president of the US and hell on earth for many people.

Yet they’re not the bad people here: they dared to hope for better things to come. The first-past-the-post system is always going to be a race to the bottom; it’s always going to protect status quo. Right now, Donald Trump is status quo.

We need to change the conversation, and we need to change it now. White, male privilege won today. Racism won, rape culture won. Let’s make its victory a turning point. Let’s reach out and listen to each other, talk about the things that make us uncomfortable, and try to tease out the things we cannot understand. Let’s make today the beginning of the end of a politics of fear.

1 Comment

  • I heard someone talking about the election campaign as a ‘game’ this morning. Actually I think it was the US Ambassador. Talking about how ‘the game’ is hard and thats how it works. It’s not really a game though, is it? It’s acceptable to make wild accusations, thinly veiled threats in the name of the game. Its all wrong.