It wasn’t really Donald Trump that scared me during the election campaign in 2016. To be honest, it was the people who thought he was a good person. The people who wanted to willingly walk into the polling booths and vote for him, a homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist, sexist, anti-feminist. That people like my own father, had he lived in America, would have voted for him to run a country. That honestly terrified me.
Imagine being such an incredible sworn enemy of so many people, and such an implausible failure, that the day after you are inaugurated, people protest you on all seven continents. People who will never feel your wrath, because they do not live in your country, participate in marches that protest you sitting in the most prestigious seat in the United States of America.
Why did people think it was not only okay, but a good idea to vote in this person? And why did the Electoral College then allow him to take on this role, when almost a million more people voted for Hillary Clinton over him? These are questions that rattled my brain, keeping me awake, knowing that even though he did not run my country, he had the immense power to start a war that could affect the planet I had grown accustomed to living on.
When not even one week after he was sworn into office, he’d already started to make good on his promises, I was reminded of how ridiculous it all was that he’d been elected at all. I never thought that Hilary Clinton would have made a particularly good president, either, but I knew one thing – that she would have been better than the alternative. And had Bernie Sanders made it past the primary elections, I would have wholeheartedly been behind his politics and his answers to inequality.
I didn’t want to do what other people who had voted against Trump were doing – I didn’t want to accept it, nor did I want to participate in violent acts against him in the form of vehement protests. Neither would solve the problem, nor allow this man to acknowledge the error of his ways. Rolling over and accepting it would be the worst response, as this would permit him to feel as though he could do whatever he wished, as he was the president, and therefore nothing could touch him. But violent protests against him only proved what he was trying to ascertain: that women are unstable, that people of colour and immigrants are ferocious, and that homosexuals are repugnant. Peaceful protests are one thing – it is another when people are breaking glass and flipping cars. Then it’s not a protest. It’s a warzone.
Trump’s plans to build a wall between the United States and Mexico wasn’t just a physical wall. It was also a metaphorical wall that proved to everyone being kept out that they meant nothing. It was something that had been drilled into their minds for years – that because they were of a different ethnicity, because they didn’t have as much money as a lot of white America, because they didn’t have access to first world resources, this made them less than. Less than perfect, less than important. Less than human. How dare the arguably “most important person in America” make others feel as though they do not matter.
I had always heard that politics was a difficult subject to talk about. That you didn’t do it in polite or civil interactions. People older than me had warned me not to discuss my own political opinion with anyone else. I found that to be illogical. I felt as though people had the right to express their own opinion, and I allowed them to do so. But I found out the damaging side of discussing one’s own politics when I was seventeen, and one of my friends at the time engaged with me in an same-sex marriage debate – she was against it, and I was all for. Although her argument was both religious as well as political, I still realised the epic downside of openly wearing one’s politics on their sleeve: that it could ruin relationships and break apart friendships. And that was what happened to us. In an online conversation that lasted 2 hours and 24 minutes, both of us had contributed to the cracking of a friendship. I haven’t spoken to her since.
But then, I got to thinking about how discussing politics could actually be positive in relationships, even if it resulted in that relationship’s destruction. Because at the end of the day, I would rather surround myself with people whose opinions on homosexuality, race, gender equality, rights of minorities and animals, and abortion aligned with my own sentiments. And at the end of the day, if someone wanted to have an argument with me about one of those topics and they weren’t wholly fighting for the rights of others, or if they were belittling the rights of others in any way, then I would have no hesitation in cutting them out of my life. If someone that I had previously been close with did not believe in the equality of all living things, or that everyone deserved the 30 basic human rights, then I have no qualms about ensuring that person and I weren’t running in the same circles anymore. And I will always be open about my politics.
I’m not calling into question someone’s own beliefs. Have your own opinions, believe in whatever higher being gives you strength if that is your path, speak your fucking mind, and I will not stand in your way until the second comes when you decide that other people are less than you, until you demean people whose lives and principles may not be aligned with yours. When that point comes, I will defend them with every ounce of strength that I have. And that is why I am so open about my hatred towards that bigot, Donald Trump.