First Brexit, now Trump – trying to make sense of a mad world

So how do you process something like this morning? Despite having that sinking feeling in my stomach just like I did with Brexit, it’s hard to make sense of what happened. We all knew it was a possibility but the reality seemed so completely beyond our understanding that we just switched off from it. Or we didn’t think about what it actually meant. But here we are, waking up to this strange, new, back-to-front world we live in.

I was out this morning with some American friends who I can only describe as shell-shocked. Oh yes, I know that feeling well. For me it really is 24 June all over again. Going to bed feeling optimistic, the polls looking good. Waking up to – what?! Has this actually happened? In truth I woke at 3.45am and looked at my BBC news app. I could already see results coming in – and that it didn’t look good. It was early days, people kept saying. Exit polls showed Clinton had it in the bag. But there was nothing overwhelmingly in her favour – it was all way too close, going to much in Trump’s direction.

And I knew, I knew then what was about to happen. I knew because we are five months ahead of the US. We have had five months to get used to this new world order, the anger and the post-truth politics. The total denial of anything that makes any sense. The refusal to admit they don’t have an argument or reason. They just want….what? Something. Something intangible – change? Their identity back? To feel like they still matter? I don’t understand it but then I am someone who doesn’t see people who are different to myself as something to be scared of – I welcome them. I love diversity and think we can only learn from others who come from a different place, have a different outlook on life or live a different way.

So I knew that this poison that has infiltrated our shores has reached America too. Why wouldn’t it? We are all part of the same globalised society now. We bounce off each other constantly, we read the same information and watch the same programmes and hear the same lies from the same sorts of people. With my American friends we discussed which was worse – Trump or Brexit. To them, understandably this soon after an unexpected win for Trump, nothing could be worse. But for me I feel that at least they get another election in four years time. We are (possibly) stuck with Brexit forever.

But in the end actually it doesn’t matter which is “worse” because they are both part of the same thing. Brexit, Trump and just as scarily the rise of right-wing parties in Europe. We are all heading in the same direction and at the moment I feel powerless to know what to do about it. I am having to defend my liberal values against people who now think it is ok for men to say what they want about women, it is ok that Muslims should be targeted and expelled from their home country, it is ok to cheer at the notion that all Mexicans are rapists. Many people who voted for Trump will say they are not racists or misogynists, that they were voting AGAINST something as much as FOR it (just like in the UK) – but in so doing they have enabled the hatred to rise. They now need to own it. If they really meant they didn’t vote for that then they damn well need to condemn it every time they see or hear something they don’t like. Because the small majority of people who really do believe these things are on the up and they are not going to go away.

So anger and confusion, Americans like us Brits will now be stuck in the culture shock cycle of this new place they arrived at this morning. You will be stuck in it for a while but I hope that you get some sort of clear direction at some point as to where you are going.

In the meantime I have no idea if this will help at all but just something I wanted to share. As I stood outside our gate this morning with our dog, having just put the children on their school bus. I saw the garbage man rummaging through next doors bins. He found some old, flat Coca Cola in a bottle and drank it. He found some wrecked, filthy trousers and neatly folded them up and put them aside. He then put all the rubbish back in the bin and moved on. He probably has no idea there has been an election in the US, nor who Donald Trump is. All he cares about is where to get food from. Yes things are awful right now and I feel pretty wretched but for 90% of the world life will go on just as before. We are all terrified for our future but at least we don’t have to go through bins just to find food.

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14 thoughts on “First Brexit, now Trump – trying to make sense of a mad world

  1. When we woke up this morning in the NL, the results still weren’t in and the race was still very close. I sent my 12 year old off to school and he emailed me a little while ago to ask what the final result was. I sent him the answer and his response “Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are screwed and domed ” I think is spot on. Even a 12 year old knows what a bad idea Trump is for the world.

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    • Yes, my two (11 and 8) are pretty upset but we have already been through Brexit so I have got used to trying to be honest with them about realities without being too doom and gloom. The best thing we can do is to help them be the tolerant ones. Our global children are very important to the future world.

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      • I’ve told mine the same. They need to be the good and the hope for a brighter future. They’ve had the opportunity to see the world from a very different perspective than most ever will and need to share that knowledge with those with a very myopic view.

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  2. My two left early without hearing the result but I am sure they will know it now. I am at a loss to understand what is happening in the world so will do the only thing I can (and which I have blogged about) and that is to be kind to everyone today … tomorrow … the day after … I do not know if good will succeed over anger, violence, prejudice and all the horrible isms in the world but at least I know I will have done my best to try and make this world a better place

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  3. I watched the returns on TV last night and right from the start, it did not look good for Clinton. I guess it kind of irked me that all the polls said she was gonna win. Why do they say that? How do they know? They don’t. I wish the pollsters would just keep their thoughts to themselves; I think that is part of the problem for all the shell-shockness. We didn’t see this coming.

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    • Yup except having been through Brexit I was ignoring the polls. I just hadn’t realised how much anger there was for Clinton as I think this is as much a vote against her/the establishment as for him. Very disappointed in women voters. But I know many feel let down by the choices presented to them. I also feel that FBI didn’t help.

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      • I was thinking the same thing: there was a lot of voting against her and what the FBI did was so very, very questionable. Then coming back to exonerate (again) her was ludicrous. We shall see…..

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  4. Very well written post. I too was shocked at both the Brexit and Trump results when the polls said otherwise…. What a mad world we are in! We will watch and see what the next 4 years bring to America and the world…

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    • Thank you. It feels weird to wake up and think Trump will be president and yet in a way completely inevitable. My hopes are that a) his campaign was more bluster than anything else and he now recognises how important, no, vital, it is that he is inclusive and b) that this shakes this up from the top down and the bottom up. Wake up world! We can’t let the haters win.

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