Tag Archives: Trump

Unpresidented

I have a terrible boss.

He’s not a terrible man. He’s a husband and father – with another baby on the way, so his wife must think he’s doing something right. He’s quite cheerful most of the time. He’s not afraid to experiment with facial hair.

He’s terrible at his job. In fact, he’s literally useless at his job. If he left tomorrow, no one would notice. He barely turns up as it is.

But what makes him a terrible boss is that he feels no responsibility for his employees. He exhibits no duty of care towards anyone in his department. He could not give a solitary shit.

When you become a manager, it means more than a few extra dollars in your pocket. The role of manager comes with responsibility – notably responsibility for the people you are managing. And the higher up the ladder you go, on the whole, the greater the pool of people for whom you are ultimately responsible.

A great leader would take a bullet for his team. I’m pretty sure my boss would throw us all under the nearest bus and then pretend he’d been somewhere else all along. Probably playing golf.

President of the United States is perhaps the greatest boss role in the world. This is a boss responsible not just for his immediate team but for his entire political party; for his whole country; for the West.

What he says matters. His words resonate. They don’t just tell us what he thinks; they tell us what he believes we should think.

When Donald Trump bragged of grabbing women by the pussy, it made sexual assault okay. There are now horrifying videos on the internet of young men, university students, defending their right to rape – because if it’s good enough for their president, it’s good enough for them.

This week in Charlottesville NC, white supremacists marched on an integrated community that had decided to move a Confederate statue – a march that evoked an embarrassing racist past and which ultimately descended into fatal violence.

And in the aftermath, Donald Trump refused to condemn their actions. He decried violence ‘on many sides’. He said some white supremacists were ‘fine people’. And he claimed the people protesting the march were as violent as the neo-Nazis they opposed.

It doesn’t matter that almost no Republican politician has voiced support for these statements. It doesn’t matter that several have voiced opposing views. It doesn’t matter that some have expressly denounced the president’s words. It doesn’t matter that the leaders of America’s biggest companies have quit White House advisory councils in droves, rushing to distance themselves and their corporate policies from Donald Trump’s racist right wing rhetoric.

All of their words combined don’t have the power of the words of POTUS. What he says matters. His words resonate.

They resonate with the millions of people who voted him into power.

For me, one of the most damning indictments of Donald Trump came – fittingly – via social media. It was when white supremacists claimed that President Trump had actively refused to denounce them – proof of his support for them, and of the righteousness of their cause.

And in response – he did nothing.

Who knows, maybe some of Donald Trump’s best friends are black. Maybe they were until this week, anyway. But that doesn’t really matter either.

Donald Trump’s words resonate. They resonate around the world.

I can’t think of a single other boss, in any line of business, in any country in the world, who could expressly support white supremacists – and still have his job the next day.

Suddenly, my boss doesn’t seem all that terrible.

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Not Fake News

So obviously we here in the not so UK are all super excited about Brexit. Now we have a date, we can all put the finishing touches to our Brexit party plans. Whew.

Article 50 is triggered when Theresa May sends a letter to the EU. I genuinely hope she actually posts them a letter. And that there’s a New Year’s Eve style evening of TV programming dedicated to the event culminating with a midnight countdown show in which we watch TM’s hand hover at the slot of a red post box for about an hour until the nation finally yells in unison 5-4-3-2-1-Brexit! as she lets go of the envelope. Then we would all sing God Save the Queen even though she absolutely definitely didn’t have an opinion on Brexit ever and certainly never mentioned one at a party one time while loads of people were listening. Then there would be the potentially weeks of aftermath fun as we wonder excitedly if the letter will get lost in the post. The EU, Europe? Good luck with that address, Royal Mail.

But in the meantime, AMERICA JESUS H CHRIST WTAF?? It’s sort of too late – and yet things do actually seem to keep getting exponentially worse so probably still worth doing – WAKE UP.

An American acquaintance of my mother’s once said to her, genuinely perplexed, that she didn’t understand why the rest of the world thought of Americans as stupid. My mother, always ready to help others where she can, wrote her a long explanatory letter. Incidentally, she never heard from that acquaintance again.

I think I’ll suggest she sends a similar missive to the FBI, who apparently thought it was okay to not mention this prior to the election:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-trump-campaign-has-been-under-investigation-since-july

Even though there was totally precedent for mentioning that a candidate was under investigation because they did it to Hillary Clinton during exactly the same election.

But let’s not blame the monumental cock-up of electing Donald Trump on the FBI. That, my friends, is on the American people. And don’t give me that but-the-majority-of-us-didn’t-vote-for-him bullshit. Your electoral system hasn’t changed in probably ever – you all knew what the stakes were. This is on all of you – like Brexit is on all of us.

But if any you genuinely don’t get what you did wrong, I’ll be happy to introduce you to my mum.

Thank you, Mr President

I have been thinking a lot about prejudice. Brexit, and now the election of Donald Trump, have made me really question what prejudice is, what I experience in my life, and what it means for others around the world.

I live in a melting pot of a city. I don’t describe London as a tolerant society; tolerance implies you don’t like something but you’re not going to throw your toys out of the pram about it. It’s a diverse and largely integrated society.

I know for a fact that there are people in London who experience racism; there are women who experience sexism; there are members of the LGBTQ community who experience homophobia or transphobia; there are disabled people who experience discrimination. But in London, a vast and populous city, prejudice pretty much goes down like this:

99% of the population is fine. Doesn’t discriminate. Doesn’t care about something as inconsequential as your skin colour or accent or who you fuck or how you walk. At worst they’re unclear how to help you in a particular circumstance, or speak to you about a particular issue, in case they inadvertently do or say something you find offensive. But confusion is not the same as prejudice.

But every now and then, someone is a dick. You see it, and a lot of other people around you see it too. Sure, what the dick said or did hurts you for a time – but all those other people, they’re on your side. And the person who comes off worst in this scenario is the dick.

That’s my experience of prejudice. I see it happen, but far more often I see it not happen. When it does happen, the vast majority finds it unacceptable. And if we don’t give the words or actions of the dicks amongst us credence, they don’t have all that much of an impact.

Prejudice is something that happens infrequently, and can be shaken off.

In a city as populous as London, ‘infrequently’ can mean fairly frequently in a chronological sense, of course. Someone might experience racism once a day – but in a city where you encounter literally thousands of people every day, that’s a statistically small part of your life. That’s a different subject, for a different time.

Right now I want to talk about the sort of people who elected Donald Trump as president – a man who calls Mexicans rapists and wants to ban Muslims from entering the US. They don’t experience prejudice in the same way as I do. For these people, prejudice is pathological. They are not isolated dicks – they’re the majority. They are not challenged and ignored – they have the popular vote. The people they abuse don’t experience prejudice infrequently – they experience it habitually.

And no one wants to be the only gay (or black, or Muslim, or woman, or disabled person…) in the village, if they can help it.

So the persecuted Muslim man leaves his bigoted home town – leaving no one there to challenge prejudice and show the bigots that there are more similarities than differences between him and them and there’s nothing to be afraid of. The bigots’ lack of experience grows, and turns to a lack of understanding, then fear, then intolerance, then inexplicable anger and violence. Meanwhile the Muslim man has moved to an integrated society such as London – where his existence changes nothing – or to a less diverse community such as a suburb of Birmingham but where he is in the majority – where his existence changes nothing, and the very existence of that community seems to feeds the fears of the society he left.

But on a personal level the Muslim man feels safer and happier. And the bigots in the town he left also feel safer and happier. So it’s win win.

Only it isn’t. It clearly isn’t.

I don’t understand the bigotry of people who don’t live in an integrated society expressly because I do live in an integrated society. And this is why events like Brexit and the US presidential election have taken people like me by surprise. I had no idea how the disenfranchised masses felt. I could not and still really cannot conceive of irrational prejudice on such a massive scale. I am stunned that white middle class men – for they are the astonishing majority here – could ever feel they were being treated like the underdogs. I cannot wrap my brain around the selfish nationalism that has allowed this to happen. Here. In the US. Across Europe.

People have made associations between Donald Trump and Hitler; between Trump and various African dictators; between Trump and Putin. And with pretty good cause, if you listen to their rhetoric.

I understand that some people desperately wanted change. But I cannot grasp a desperation so deep that they would vote for Donald Trump.

But I believe that the key now is not vilifying people for their prejudices, but trying to understand where they’ve come from. Instead of building a wall, Donald Trump should be travelling through Mexico. Instead of banning Muslims, he should be sitting down and talking to Muslims.

Instead of dividing societies we should all be trying to come together.

Not all differences of opinion can be overcome. But the ones born simply of ignorance can.

If anything good comes from the current global political shift, I hope it’s greater communication. I don’t think I am alone in wanting to understand.

 

The Nigel

Ah, Nigel Farage. Call me old-fashioned, but I just can’t think of his smug gurning face without uttering the word “cunt”.

What’s he up to now? He’s only offered to be Donald Trump’s ambassador to the EU, that’s what. Given he’s probably at the very top of the list of people the EU has no desire to see or speak to ever again, if The Donald did offer him the job it would be a rather spectacular own goal.

He must realise he’s literally the world’s worst candidate for that role.

So what’s he playing at? Having divided Britain and decimated the British government with his hatemongering referendum campaign, and then promptly scarpered and left a shocked and shattered land to pick up the pieces… is he now hoping to destroy America and the US presidency?

I wouldn’t put it past the vile megalomaniac. It would certainly be one way to grab Donald Trump by his proverbial pussy.

The Nigel has form. You have been warned.

My fellow Americans

Here’s the thing. If there are a few sub-par teachers at your kid’s school, you don’t get them fired and then replace them with plumbers. Even if those plumbers have proper useful plumbing skills, and they’ve been in the plumbing trade for 30 years, and also they like a laugh a spot of banter (even if their jokes are sometimes a bit “racist”, and their banter is sometimes a bit “locker room”).

You just understand that to be a teacher you need skills and experience as a teacher. You replace the bad teacher, of course. But with another teacher, obviously.

There are many Donald Trump supporters who explain their support as being because they’re sick of politicians. But the solution to bad politicians is to replace them with good politicians. It’s specifically not to replace them with people whose skills lie in totally different areas. You would never want an electrician to do the job of a dolphin trainer. Or a chef to do the job of a wigmaker. Or a dancer to do the job of an interior designer. Well you just wouldn’t, would you?

We in Blighty made a massive gaffe recently, and I for one secretly hoped it might inspire you Americans not to make a ginormous gaffe. We too were a land disillusioned by politicians. And a majority of the population used the EU referendum to voice that disillusionment. They didn’t vote for the good of the county, or the continent, or the world, or their families, or even themselves. They voted against the politicians.

And in doing so they shot the whole country in its national foot.

Is Hillary Clinton perfect? Not even slightly. But you know what, that’s your fault too. If you want excellent politicians you have to fight for excellent politicians, not sit at home whinging about how you’ve had it up to here with politicians. That’s how democracy works – you have a voice.

But look, it’s too late to worry about that now. Today you only have a choice between two people. And since the job description is “politician”, and only one of them is actually a politician, your choice should be pretty astonishingly simple.

And next time round, instead of not getting involved because you’re sick of politicians, maybe you’ll get involved specifically because you’re sick of politicians.