Opinion – President Trump From An Islingtonian’s Perspective
Donald Trump may have ‘only’ won leadership of America last week, but his time at the helm could, in a globalized world, affect Islingtonians just as much as it will Iowans.
One such Islington resident, our deputy editor Valerio Esposito, gives his take on the soon-to-be 45th President of the United States one week on from his victory…
The news that Donald Trump has become President Elect of the United States has thrown the world – from Washington DC to here in the London Borough of Islington – into a spiral of fear and anxiety over a future that, at this stage, appears irremediably dark.
Last week, many were shocked at the US presidential election culminating in this result: no one felt prepared to deal with something that, up until last Tuesday, seemed like nothing more than a remote possibility.
So stunned had people been by the surreal atmosphere of Trump’s dystopian-esque campaign and so adamant had most mainstream media been that the 70-year-old politician represented the ‘bad guy’, it seemed inevitable that Clinton would easily reign victorious on November 8.
Yet Trump survived and thrived as he imprisoned everyone in his own dimension, trapping us within walls of lies and demagogic manipulations built on people’s most primitive impulses.
So waking up on Wednesday morning here in Islington to the momentous news was like a cold shower that abruptly dragged us back to reality, where we could see – with painful lucidity – the damage that had been done.
A week on from the news and the scariest part is that no one in my borough, the United States or beyond really knows what is going to happen next.
Brexit is probably the most relevant point of comparison in terms of political upheaval, since many of the media debates and political exploitation surrounding the UK’s EU referendum were based on similar issues and similar principles.
The result of the referendum was a slap in the face, since it attacked the core beliefs of many and overall faith in Western values.
But Trump’s victory was the coup de grace of 2016, the ‘natural’ succession of all of the fear and paranoia fueled by the UK’s decision to leave the EU five months earlier.
A comment issued on Twitter by Front National vice president Florian Philippot (pictured above) not long after the US electoral result was announced served as a chilling prophecy indeed: “Their world is collapsing. Ours is being built.”
At this moment, that’s exactly what it looks like: as our world collapses, new walls are being erected and the system of shared values that once saved us from ignorance and brought us into modernity is sinking underneath them.
It’s the moment when democracy fails us, a distortion and downright perversion of the concept of freedom. If nothing else, it’s a worrisome reminder of the words of Plato: democracy inevitably turns into tyranny.
It’s a historic defeat for the various media outlets, both old and new, which came together in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the unavoidable and were smashed under the weight of a result no-one was able to predict.
It’s a remarkable failure on the part of political pollsters, who have grown more and more unreliable of late, their predictions becoming evermore inaccurate, misleading and more harmful than beneficial.
It’s a paradoxical uprooting of those long-standing ideas of the media using “power without responsibility”; if anything, now it seems to be a case of them having only “responsibility without power”.
More than anything, it’s a terrible missed opportunity for the USA to progress itself, as a woman came so close to smashing the fabled glass ceiling, only to have her chance seized from her at the very last moment.
If nothing else, it demonstrates that in the eyes of the American public, the worst man in the room is unfortunately still a ‘better’ choice than the best woman in the room.
We’d like to believe, of course, that what Hillary Clinton said with dignity and courage in her conceding speech is true, that although “this is painful and it will be for a long time”, we should “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it”.
Given the way that this world is going, I can’t help but wonder whether that’s really the case.
But as the days go by, I also realize that there’s nothing left for Islingtonians like myself – and everyone across the world, in fact – to do than keep on believing in and fighting for what we think is right and, above all, speaking up against all we know is wrong.