A reality television star is now the President-Elect of the United States of America, and the only objective conclusion anyone can draw is that we do not know what he will do next. There are several cultural, economic, and political events that lead to the shocking defeat of Hillary Clinton, but perhaps most interesting to MIIC students is the way social media has played such a huge role in creating the political divide that contributed to this truly horrifying election.
The term “Echo chambers” has become commonplace in the discussion of how both conservatives and liberals in the United States have spent the better part of the last year and a half agitating themselves into a frenzy over viral, and often inaccurate, pieces of information. The vast majority of my friends, and myself, believe Trump’s election to be catastrophic and are in complete anguish. For us, the idea that Trump’s anti-establishment aura would cancel out his flippant remarks on whole groups of people, complete lack of qualifications, and his hostile disposition is incomprehensible madness. His election confirms our worst fear: our neighbors do not care about us, only that they will one day have their completely white, straight, Christian, isolated America.
At the same time, in my own feeds I continually see the same level of disbelief from conservative comments. Shock that anyone would have thought Hillary was less than a monstrous threat to the fabric of society and disbelief that people would be scared of such a “straight-shooting” trustworthy man like Trump. The different world views do not just feel opposed. They are irreconcilable. I remain confident in my personal belief that what Trump has said should be taken seriously and that a billionaire with a track record for questionable business deals is the worst choice possible to address corruption in Washington and the continued erosion of the middle class.
However, with polls showing less than 17% of Trump supporters found issues of equality and environmentalism to be at all a factor in their decision, I am forced to consider the entirely different narratives that have been spun about America and its former and/or potential « greatness ». I now see how these competing narratives never even influenced each other until they collided violently on Tuesday, and it is so apt that the location of votes determined the outcome more than the number.
America showed itself to be exactly what it is. A country of enormous coastal, liberal metropolises where the overwhelming majority made a measured, progressive choice while those from the suburbs and rural areas made it clear that the only recourse they felt they had left was to burn the system to the ground. The latter won not because they are more numerous, but because their world is more physically vast and spread out between those denser places that resemble the America I know and love. Their anger has been validated by the Electoral College, a system designed, in the most tragic of ironies, to prevent the Republic from suffering demagogues who would focus their attention on only the few most populous states. If only the founding fathers knew how easy it would be one day to reach every state but the most populous at the same time, they might have thought twice before embedding it into the Constitution.
As the whole world deals with the shock of this election, and I personally feel the heartbreak that comes with suddenly feeling unwelcome in my own country, the MIIC blog has asked all of our students to provide the reactions they’ve seen, the way they feel about President Donald Trump, and how this huge event is being shaped for them by the shares and viral imagery from around the world that they see.
What’s been the most upsetting about this election is hearing people blame third party voters and people that didn’t vote. It is relevant to some extent but I believe the focus should be on the 50 million people who actually voted for Donald Trump rather than the people who didn’t.
Disbelief was all I saw during my morning scroll on Twitter, on Wednesday morning. Disbelief, because how could this be true? But it was, and people were slowly experiencing the first stage of grief.
What struck me was how many people were retweeting suicide and depression hotlines, as if Trump wining had been as shocking as the terrorist attacks in Paris.
During the riots in Ferguson, the quote from The Hunger Games “If we burn, you burn with us” had been written on walls to express determination. For Trump’s election, I noticed the same attitude, both on the French and American sides of those I follow.
Fiction has always had this tendency to overlap on reality, either to comfort us, to support a cause or to make uncanny parallels. Here, it showed everyone’s distress but also their uncertainty. Because the scariest thing now is that we have no idea what’s going to happen.
My personal thought on this election is that a narcissistic megalomaniac man is not fit to be president of a country. A person whose mode of expression is based on insult, for lack of arguments, cannot lead a country and least of all, one of the most powerful countries of the world.
As a non-American person, I am just really sad for the American people. On a global scale, I am also deeply sad to live in a world where countries lean towards isolation instead of getting closer.
As a French person, I am worried about the French presidential election in 2017 and I fear a wave of populism in the world.
As a student in Communications, the election of Trump is a reminder/warning/example of how powerful images are, of how important a good slogan can be and of what communication can achieve.
Finally, are Americans going to do something about the electoral college system at some point ? Aren’t people tired of having someone in the white house who does not have the support of the majority of the people ?
I already discussed it with some of you but I think the Guardian’s reaction very interesting. The made a live called The Cheer Corner where they published cute images to soothe people. This is extraordinary when you think that we are talking about reactions to a political events.
I also noticed that a lot of non-French people are now looking at France regarding the incoming election. This shows how global the consequences of the American election can be.
Did Trump manage to not just divide the US but the whole world ?
After the shock and utter horror that came with knowing Trump would be the next POTUS, the reaction I witnessed online, and around me, was fear. Fear for the safety of our planet because we don’t trust him to make the good decisions our world needs. Fear for the safety of the people he has to protect but never will. Women, muslims, LGBT and black people… The list goes on. And now, I see concern that what happened in the USA will happen in France as well. Some reactions of fellow citizens, who seem to be lacking even the smallest amount of empathy, are sickening. Dark times are ahead and helplessness is growing.
But I guess that Trump winning is a reminder that the core values (of tolerance, open-mindedness, kindness…) that are so close to our hearts should never be taken for granted. Trump being president should encourage all of us to stand together and be even more vocal about them.
I’d like to share James Corden’s post-election Monologue, who used his Britishness, his humour and his positivity to help coping with this news. I recommend watching it here ❤