The definitive test of the health of any democracy is the handover of power after elections, when candidates with different or the same ideas work together to observe the popular will, expressed through the ballot box. Barack Obama’s promise to “work for a successful transition” is proof of this. He and his team will now do all in their power to facilitate the arrival in office of the next leader of the free world, a racist and a sexist with no experience in office and whose only stated objectives are to lower taxes for the rich, build a wall along the Mexican border and improve relations with Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump is a danger, and a serious one. Hillary Clinton may have wished him every success on Wednesday and offered to help with whatever he needs, but the very existence of Donald Trump endangers a system created in the aftermath of World War II that has seen the United States guarantee the global balance by leading a democratic bloc against a huge number of authoritarian regimes.
Put simply, one half of the United States has voted against the rights of the other half. The people celebrating Trump’s victory on Tuesday night were celebrating the triumph of boorishness, intolerance, fear, and ignorance. The only sure thing we know about Trump is that he will say one thing one day and another the next, depending on which way the political wind is blowing, or which side of bed he got out of. In a single day he has been for and against abortion rights, same-sex marriage and banning Muslims from entering the country. And when it suits him, he has no problem lying.
The United States is about to enter a dark age
Some observers have said Trump won because Hillary Clinton didn’t or couldn’t. The new president garnered fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008, both of whom lost. Some voters may have sought to punish Hillary Clinton for Barack Obama’s mistakes: his chaotic healthcare reform, for having governed sometimes like a moderate Republican, or for improving relations with Cuba and Iran. Or it might simply have been that she was a weak candidate with the wrong surname taking on a male-dominated machine.
The winner of this election is white America, a concept that the Obama presidency looked to have made obsolete, but that has returned stronger than ever. Trump has made it his business to insult just about everybody else: blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, transsexuals, and even the disabled. The decision by a large number of white, middle-aged men with a basic education has handed over to a property tycoon with delusions of grandeur the keys to the country, the Oval Office, and a lectern at the United Nations; and all with the support of White Supremacists he has refused to distance himself from.
Many people who have voted for Trump are or have been Democrats. This has happened before. When Lyndon B. Johnson won the presidency in 1964, he approved civil rights legislation and ended racial segregation. The southern states, until then solidly Democrat, turned Republican. This left the part with the middle and lower middle classes, labor unions and the poor, for whom state aid was the only way to keep their head above water. The Democratic Party will need to look at the impact of the policies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, which were not that different from those of George W. Bush.
Trump garnered fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008
The United States is about to enter a dark age. There is no other way to say it. The will of the people is the cornerstone of a democracy, but that doesn’t mean that we always elect the best candidate. In this case, this is the decision of 58 million people, but it is still the wrong decision, and an unfair one. Any number of glorious nations have committed collective suicide through the ballot box. There is a collective responsibility here for leaving the most vulnerable unprotected.
Speaking immediately after the election results were in, Obama told Americans “no matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning…” Doubtless, but in the fickle world of Donald Trump, who knows? He may try to convince us otherwise one of these days.
English version by Nick Lyne.