There is a grey cloud in the sky. You can associate with it rain, thunder, storms, maybe even floods and disaster. The white one is an anomaly and it sits untouched by inquiry or history that can either politicise or aestheticise it to any degree. Donald Trump is the white cloud in a political context. And he is the president-elect of the United States of America not because people knew better but because they were tired of being told what is better. Perhaps they are tired of the politics of association, with principle or tired even of being asked to introspect.
America chose Trump because it could.
Make no mistake about it, this was the election, not merely of the American president, but of a new world order. Regardless of your distance from Washington, or the kind of carpeting in your room (as opposed to that which the new president-elect wears), you are a part of this order. There is perhaps a science to all of this, that all, even the toe-tipped experts, missed out on. That diplomacy may finally call off its long-held, popularised, public relationship with principle, is perhaps sighting the obvious but all too belatedly. And if anything goes, everything should. At which point, even this article betrays its own sense of importance. And while the intellectual class measure the impotence of their words and messages, with a red-white-and-blue yardstick, there are a fair number of takeaways to be thrown around, because what else would we then do, anyway.
Let us not over-sympathise
America runs on gimmicks, and it will be soon be run by one. As a friend recently told me, “Our money is trash and their trash will be president”. Let us not kick up dust because there will be enough rubble to go around in a few years’ time. This, after all, is the country that has given us the WWE, The Miss World pageant (a Trumpism), country music and Lady Gaga. And these are just some of the many things the country is now a reflection of. This narcissism has bled even into the efforts of the creative class – films like the Oscar-nominated American Sniper tend to eulogise the American way, the American dream and so on by popular contradiction.
America has been built on pop-culture, and a self-serving narrative of the world as seen through the eyes of the West, of which the country is quick to pronounce itself as the voice. It may still be your dreamland, the country you desperately want and hope to live in — to share of stories of cleanliness, liberal values — while really the part of the song you crave to sing, either fades in Las Vegas, or now at Trump towers. The bottom line (if there is one left to hang on to) is that Trump’s election was long time coming and not as nearly as far off in the future as you thought at first. It may even have been accelerated by a black American president, who as a precursor implied sense and introspection that clearly does not sit well with the American way.
Democracy can grab you anywhere, anytime
Aside the pun, Democracy does unify us more than we may care to acknowledge; more so in tragedy than in victory. America today, is a tragedy, no less recordable for its comical decline as it is for the rise on the vituperative stage that world politics is now in. Democracy is the most wonderful and now even the most dark of equalisers. It accounts for intelligence by opportunity, out of the two of which, the latter, definitely is universal, at least under Democracy. The former exists only as evidence of evolution, perhaps, also as the stick to beat our self-congratulatory accomplishments with.
The vote of a redneck (if you like) counts just as much as that of Noam Chomsky.
And who is to say it shouldn’t.
In the pall of the light less shone, the option to stand or fall over, on one’s a**e, should not be rationed. If a wise man can jump off a cliff out of a sense of liberation, even if it exists for a moment, a fool can do so out of defiance. And anger, more than wisdom, is universal. And that is what Democracy provides an equitable landscape for. Even for those just bored by everything. Where we can now quote the irrelevant Walter Benjamin:
“Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.”
Understanding the masses, the media and the by-laws of thought
Around the world, think tanks, newspaper offices, magazines and so on are perhaps submerged by cloud of smog that has momentarily rendered perspective as eyeless as a deer in the headlights. The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, John Oliver, John Stewart, SNL (Saturday Night Live) and so on openly endorsed Clinton. And it is perhaps indicative of something, not in the least bit of the fact that it was probably even unethical. But were ethics really an option in this election? The point is that institutions we consider as harbingers, or voices that authorise opinion, and are seen as the highest manifestations of informed critical thought have been left to contemplate their influence. And therein lies the greatest lesson of all. Writing down to people, to tell them what to do, is another form of subjugation, however well-informed. The commonest of common men will retaliate with the only apparatus they are given. They can’t counter with scholarly works, retrospective pieces, or seminal prose. They will simply do what they can: Bring truth to power, and reality to the myth they were told would never become reality. Or maybe, let us also consider, that nobody gives a s**t.
Moving on to or moving away
The magnitude of what has happened will only be understood, years, maybe even decades from now. Because only in the cold air of a ruin, does the most assured of reflections lose a breath. That said Donald Trump may actually turn out to be a wonderful president, for the states at least. He may actually sober up and not do any of things (or at least to the extent he said he would) he promised. That, however, does not unhook from responsibility. There is a need for introspection, of deep introspection. The country that likes to shake its mirrors before looking into them has turned it the other way. While they refuse to look, as many others in a post-Brexit, post-Trentry world will choose to, we need to get off of our Instagram filters, avoid trivialising this monumental event over Facebook and the like, and think. Because the average American just proved that they could do no better than they could do any worse. We can, while there is time. Maybe, we can. And believing that is of utmost importance right now, the world over.
First Published On : Nov 10, 2016 17:44 IST