Man what a crazy year! First Bowie and Prince check out, then England votes to leave the EU and now orange faced Trump seized the Leadership of the ( apparently) free world! Is it a coincidence that populism has a winning streak the year two of our most flamboyant and eccentric geniuses leave us?
That Trump won isn't a big surprise to me. Somehow I had the same feeling in my gut seeing the Trump rally that I had during the Brexit campaign: All this vilifying of populist opinion will not diminish it's popularity. The more the Left squirms, the more rebellious and enticing the "wrong" choice might be. Why? Because it stirs some shit up. It goes against the status quo. It's a "Fuck You" to the ruling establishment.
A lot of people say that if Bernie Sanders would have run instead of Hillary, Bernie would have won. This might be true. Because I feel people are now looking for candidates that offer an alternative to the established political ruling class, even if they are crazy and wrong like Trump. Bernie could have offered a real alternative to Trump, but Hillary just felt too deep entangled with corporations and banks. Trump was the LEAVE to Hillarys REMAIN.
Do I support Trump and his bullshit agenda? Hell no! Still I get why people voted for him. I will not go into some cliché America bashing, but Trump is the logical consequence and the embodiment of the American dream: Money, Success, Dominance. He has a damn jet with his name on it, he must be right! So where we in Europe see a caricature of a businessman straight out of an episode of The Simpsons, over half of voting America seems to see a successful leader who has the balls to tell it like it is.
Sometimes I feel it's actually impossible to have high flying career in business or politics and stay a sane, level headed human being. Who wants to be in the public eye 24/7 and be aware of all the dirt and bullshit? Who can and wants to deal with all this pressure? Being a bit of a sociopath definitely helps taking decisions and brokering deals with that level of responsibility. Plus: If you are a Rock Star you can at least bang groupies and do drugs, as a politician you need to pretend to be squeaky clean. How boring is that?!
Somehow I am even happy about Brexit and Trump: It has been a long time coming and now the cards are on the table and don't hide in the haze of local pubs and hushed conversations. The liberal left seems to have failed to communicate their agenda and get the whole country onboard, not only the educated liberal middle class in the big cities.
The uncomfortable truth is that a lot of people think very differently from what our own rigged Facebook feeds like to suggest to us. It's time to step out of the media echo chamber and take a broader look around.
Of cause there is a reason most people don't want to talk religion or politics: Because such topics are deeply personal and EMOTIONAL! It's extremely hard to keep calm and respectful when discussing opposite views how the world works as our core beliefs have been deeply anchored within us by our upbringing, cultural heritage and education. We are not willing to throw all that under the truck just because somebody thinks different!
But if we can't discuss things that matter without yelling at each other within minutes, how can we get to a point of mutual respect or evolving viewpoints? If we like it or not, most of our believes are steeped in emotion, not cold hard facts. I feel this is what the UK politician Michael Gove meant when he said that people are tired of experts. It's not about numbers, but how we feel about certain issues. And if this feeling is wrong it will be more helpful to talk about it than to call each other names. Especially in American politics I feel the Republican / Democrat divide is so massive that any mutual agreement on an issue is seen as selling out and being defeated by the opposite side. It's not anymore about serving the people, more about securing one's own power and dominance.
I am as annoyed about people seeing Trumps win as the end of the world as I am about the people who see his win as a new golden era for America. It's both massively exaggerated.
Still, how a ruthless businessman could convince a country that he is on the side of the honest American worker is still beyond me! Trump is the first guy who would outsource production to China if it makes his pockets fatter.
His big issue might be that he has to live up to his hype now, although I am sure he can spin his way out of any false promises he made. If George W can do not one but TWO terms as US president even after little things like, you know, missing WMD's, then Trump is more than capable to do the same. When you are too big to fail, things get pretty cushy!
Where am I going with this? Well, I guess I am just verbalising what goes on in my head currently. George Carling once said: When you get born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you get born in America you get first row seats! And I don't mean this in a derogatory way. It's just that America was always the inflated version of Western Europe, with bigger gestures, bigger dreams and even bigger TV's. So I really hope this is not the beginning of even more countries swinging to the right, thinking that the solutions of the past hold the key to the problems of the future.
The gap between liberal and conservative has never been more obvious. But can I really blame somebody who lives in a small city for not appreciating diversity to a level that I do after having lived 15 years in a crazy eclectic world capital like London?
I feel we need less blame and more education. We need more politicians who actually deliver what they promise and less hysteric Facebook posts that ultimately just preach to the already converted thanks to algorithms that only enforce how we already see the world. But most of all we have to get off our liberal high horses and grow thicker skin to be able to have some uncomfortable conversations.
So what are my wishes for 2017? Hopefully the debunking of the myth that becoming more nationalist will solve all the issues. And that we accept that in a democracy everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Let the conversations begin...