Trump’s recent win has cast a mournful and solemn mood over America’s capital. DC has become a graveyard: a lesser version of its pre-election self, clouded by the loss of hope for America’s first female President. Dreams of running the nation’s political epicentre, the White House, were quickly shattered as the glass ceiling at the Javits Centre in New York remained as strong as ever over Clinton’s loss.
Candlelit vigils, ‘free hugs’ and group cries have become the norm around the George Washington University campus and in the broader DC area, with the need to stand in solidarity against Trump. Crowds have taken to the streets to protest against his election, with chants such as: “When the Donald attacks, the pussy fights back!”, and “Not my President!”. Flags are being burned in the street, symbolising the death of American democratic ideals. It feels like a lost country in DC, with its foundational principles being trumped by anti-immigration and anti-progressive populist policies. Indeed, it does feel like democracy has lost, with the Electoral College distorting political reality to favour Trump. Conversations in classrooms have similarly been dominated by the election, with professors lamenting the loss of democracy in their country, and students expressing their deep concerns and fear at what this result would bring to their safety, especially considering that Trump aims to reverse all of Obama’s progress regarding the Second Amendment. It is a threatening situation.
It feels like ‘Brexit Round Two’. And yes, I did shed another tear. Witnessing in person first Brexit, and then Trump’s election, does cast some doubt on humanity. They were both equally as shocking for the countries, with the familiar phrase: “I never thought he’d actually get in” being all too familiar to us Brits. Sadly, Brexit and Trump are both products of the same problem: the disenfranchisement of the white working class. They have proven that their discontent can no longer be ignored in the most shocking, and perhaps devastating, way possible.
However, this is not a time for blame. The demonisation and neglect of the white working class is what has caused these issues, and the results show that they can no longer be neglected. These are individuals who, after generations of not voting, have turned out in force to vote for Trump and make their voices heard. Attention must be paid.
Yes, this is a difficult time; but this is not a time for mourning. As Audre Lorde stated, “your silence will not protect you”: the UK and the US must take action, standing in solidarity against such policies. All oppressed groups should align themselves together, and recognise our commonality. Indeed, the only group that Trump will benefit is his own demographic: rich white males with a talent for avoiding taxes. Similarly, the anti-immigration policies of Brexit will not protect the working classes, but will affect them further by halting immigration, and causing businesses to withdraw from the UK’s previously secure and stable economy.
We must mobilise ourselves, creating petitions, lobbying politicians, and participating in as many protests as we can to make our voices heard. Social media is one important mechanism, providing an easy method of scrutiny and a way of galvanising people to take action. Already, minority groups have taken to DC’s streets to protest together: Black Lives Matter, the International Socialist Organisation and Workers of the Industrial World have all made their presence known. We can stand against such threats. Indeed, we must pressurise Trump, and make these four years the longest years he has ever had. After all, it is already working for Theresa May and Brexit.
Image by illustrator Alex MacDonald.