Come on, liberals. We fucked up with Trump.
It’s raining statuses – after a drought of support for the alternative.
It’s in. Trump won – with nearly the entirety of Cambridge crying out in anguish.
Facebook status after Facebook status decry the result. The terms racism and fascism are thrown around as though the 20th Century never really happened. We’re asking why the people of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina allowed a narcissistic chauvinist to become the most powerful man on the planet. We’re copy-pasting our sentiments about Brexit from a few months ago.
It’s easy to blame the people who voted Trump, but we could have stopped this. We didn’t. We chose other fights. Cambridge is a melodramatic place. We argue ceaselessly about the overstated implications of class lists, the need for safe spaces, the leader of an irrelevant organisation (read: NUS), throwing around the words oppression and structural discrimination in the most hysterical tone.
What is the consequence of this? Well, if you scream at the top of your voice about every minor issue, as soon as the big bad wolf comes around the corner, people aren’t willing to listen. While we’ve busied ourselves commenting on the devastating effects of people knowing your grade, the apparently intrinsic evil of the Conservative party and the racism of tea (yes, really), a gradually increasing proportion of the electorate has stopped listening, and eventually grown to resent everything that we, the liberal establishment, represent.
That’s not to say debates about safe spaces, class lists, divestment are intrinsically bad – but man did we neglect the good fight while getting caught up in the minutiae. Cambridge liberals have been elevating the moral high-ground to such an extent that we aren’t protesting the right people anymore. In the eighties, students protested against apartheid. Now we take issues with the mere mention of words.
For months, ‘people like us’ have been telling the world that we simply can’t get behind Clinton. She’s corrupt! She’s no Bernie Sanders! She’s not quite spotless enough for the likes of us!
So entangled did we become in trying to assert our own establishment intricacies on this two-horse race that we fatally complicated what should have been a clear-cut choice. Whilst we were agonising over Clinton’s brand of feminism, Trump was claiming great swathes of angry white votes, suiting up to play the ultimate final hand to American democracy.
This is what happens when half of the world is intellectualising the debate, and the other half is voting with their questionable gut. We fight with each other about Clinton’s hang-ups, all the while ignoring the fact that a man accused of multiple sexual assaults, a man who is holding rallies and spewing hatred about minorities, has become not only accepted, but popular.
President Trump is what happens when we say, pompously, like we’re above it all, that Clinton is the ‘lesser of two evils’. And we liberals, the world over, said it with a smug smile on our faces, because we knew she’d win. Hillary thought she would win. In the Union as the results came in, there were hushed murmurs of ‘What happens if Trump actually gets it?’, as if, all this time, we’d never even considered that possibility.
The media, existing largely to satisfy us (the educated liberal class) have entirely followed suit. In the UK it’s the Guardian, whose opinion section has devolved from an intelligent left-wing perspective on current affairs to a laughable, self-serving echo chamber of the banal. In the US the likes of the New York Times and Huffington Post fulfil the same roles.
Now as a result, who suffers? The isolationist mood that brought us both Brexit and Trump is about to drag the world economy down like a lead weight. Unemployment will rise, trade will decrease, resentment will grow and the working classes will suffer. If only we’d picked our battles.
When fighting with each other about class lists and safe spaces and cultural appropriation, we implicitly know that none of us are going around murdering MPs, or killing Polish immigrants, or destroying the fabric of a nation. We exist in a bubble, and never has it been more evident than at this very moment. We’re posting statuses congratulating one another for being upset by the election result. We have to acknowledge that it’s our levity, our distance from the situation, that contributed to the apathy of the Clinton campaign.
We’re white, we’re wealthy, we’re intelligent. We’ll get on whatever happens. We’re not a Mexican immigrant living in a state that went to Trump today – surrounded by a country that went to Trump, today. We know how to tackle micro-aggressions but we don’t know what to do about the rise in hate crimes and surely it’s us – at the greatest university in the world, this intellectual powerhouse – who should be coming up with solutions.
We need to do something now. All the symposiums in the world can’t protect us from this. We should get off our arses and recognise why the rest of the world sees us as complacent.
It’s time we engage. If you really are liberal, if you really do care, campaign for a political party. Tell some racist chatting shit in the pub where he can stick it. If we’re all so confident that we’re right to be supporting democracy, liberalism, education, then we need to prove that we’re worth our salt, and be nuanced enough to recognise that while we can’t turn a voter into an ideal, inclusive, non-homophobic beacon of perfection, we could have got them to vote for Clinton.
‘The lesser of two evils’ indeed.