So, I’ve been watching with a mixture of fascination, despair and vodka martinis over the last couple of days as Trump has pivoted on virtually every major position he held running up to the election (and simply avoided talking about the ones he doesn’t know what to do with). Every day the press runs another story which seems to only strengthen the idea we’re actually living in some sort of whacky computer simulation who’s operator keeps having some sort of spasm and mashing random keys. You literally could not make this shit up. To summarise off the top of my head:
- Dr Ben Carson, impeccable neurosurgeon and erstwhile contender for the Republican nomination to be the fucking president of the USA, declined to make himself available to serve in a Trump administration…on the basis that he has no political experience. Seriously. Is it just fucking easy is it to become a neurosurgeon in the US or does having a palpable disregard for irony just earn you a couple of extra credits?
- Trump is no longer going to prosecute Hilary Clinton. This is a small deviation from his original campaign promise to prosecute Hilary Clinton, a campaign promise which engendered much enthusiastic frothing at the bung by those tired of being forced to contemplate being led by anybody other than a crusty old orange white guy.
- The wall isn’t going to get built really. Well, maybe parts of it. But those parts will be more fence-ish and less wall-ish. And the US will probably pay for those parts. To badly paraphrase the legendary Murray Walker, the current position is identical to the former one, except that it’s almost totally different.
- Trump sees no issue with continuing to be involved with his business and running the largest economy on the planet. Then again, given that apparently “no political experience” is a negative when working for the president but not apparently being the actual president, maybe he’s not wrong. Also, there’s no conflict of interest between owning a hotel in Washington DC and being the president based in Washington DC – that would almost be suggesting that profiting privately from your public position is unethical!
- People aren’t allowed to criticise him or his administration at all, especially in theatres. He’s won, and people need to shut up and accept this now. Free speech is a thing that Donald Trump seems to think doesn’t apply to people when they’re talking about Donald Trump.
- His 35 year old son-in-law with no political experience is perfectly equipped to bring peace to the Middle East. Every other career diplomat and politician just weren’t trying hard enough it seems.
- He doesn’t really like the alt-right after all. It would have been nice for him to disavow their anti-semitic, racist, sexist misogyny before the election, but, you know, fuck it – they were rooting for him after all.
- Breitbart is just like the New York Times in that they report the news. Much like rape and consensual sex are the same thing in that they each involve at least two people.
- Poor old Barry has had to agree to a longer than usual transition period, due to the President-Elect’s “surprise” at the “scope of the job.” Um, what the fuck did he think it entailed?
And so on. Now, I’m still not about to hit the panic button – again, the US administration is a behemoth, with a plethora of checks and balances that go a long way to limiting what Trump can do acting alone. But that’s not the point. The point is that this clown got voted in to office sailing on a pack of outright lies and bluster that were never ever feasible in the slightest. And now he’s there, he feels absolutely fuck-all shame in straight up turning around and say “Nah, come on guys, I didn’t really mean that shit – like, I had my fingers crossed behind my back the whole time!”
And the most incredible thing is that there is no discernible backlash from his supporters. Seriously. Nobody . Nothing. Instead of noting that their beloved saviour has zero fucking clue about anything, and is rapidly backing down from every major platform position he held, his supporters are busy confirming that they don’t understand what the freedoms to speech, assembly and protest mean, berating anybody who dares to protest Trump’s victory. Remember how absolutely no racist, Confederate-flag waving, life-was-better-before-the-Civil-Rights-movement pieces of shit protested when a black dude won election? Definitely not looking at you, Republican establishment and your minions.
We’ve seen the same thing happen with Brexit. The £350m payment that was evaporating off to the EU weekly suddenly wasn’t quite that much at all, and what was being sent to the EU wasn’t actually available to be ploughed back into the NHS anyway. Suddenly nobody had ever promised anything that had, in fact, been very explicitly promised prior to the referendum – at least themselves. Boris Johnson, who I used to be a fan of as Mayor of London, blamed Nigel Farage for promising things that were now, seemingly obviously, unworkable. He also seemed genuinely surprised that anybody would vote to leave the EU because they didn’t like immigration, having ostensibly immediately forgotten this was actually one of the very pillars around which the referendum was built.
Farage in turn grew a fucking horrible moustache in what I must presume was an attempt to emulate a randomly selected European hero of his from the 40s, and blamed the “Leave Movement” in general, further twisting his slimy torso out of the grip of accountability by clarifying that the Leave movement wasn’t, in fact, a single thing, and he couldn’t be held responsible for what it had totes not promised, his enthusiastic embrace of all things Brexit as head of the UKIP (the “I” standing for Independence, ahem) nothwithstanding.
And now, as it becomes blatantly apparent that the UK will – shock, horror, gasp – not be allowed free access to the common market without allowing free movement of labour and capital in spite of repeated assurances to the contrary which were based on nothing more than straight up fucking conjecture and were in direct contradiction to what EU leaders were saying at the time as well…nothing. Nobody is being held accountable. Boris fucking Johnson drove around in a bus with £350m plastered on the side of it in big white lettering and then literally turned around the morning of the results and claimed that was never a thing, and in return he got appointed as the fucking Foreign Secretary.
I’m going to keep saying it until we admit it – it’s not about making America or Britain great again, it’s about making them white and exclusive again. It’s not about taking back control from the establishment, it’s about making sure the establishment reflects an unthinking and emotional segment of the population’s bigoted, nasty and narrow-minded prejudices. “But wait”, you cry, “it’s not true! We’ve suffered for so long under the rule of an uncaring urban elite, who’ve not delivered anything to us! I didn’t want to vote for Trump/Brexit, I wanted to vote for change/to make a point/because what we had hasn’t worked since Regan/Thatcher! Arghlblarghblarghblarghblargh!”
I’ve wrestled with that argument, as it seems to be a reasonable one on the face of it, and have constructed a carefully reasoned response which I believe succinctly elucidates the contrary position: Go get fucked you pillock. That’s exactly what Hitler did (no this is not Godwin’s Law). He waved the Treaty of Versaille around and made loud, angry noises, and told the Germans how unfairly they’d been treated, and how letting the foreigners have a say in things was responsible for the suffering of the German people, and it was the status quo political establishment of the day who were to blame, and how Germany should be great again, and how it should be kept for Germans only, and the rest is history. And if you think it couldn’t happen again because we live in HD colour, not black and white newsreels voiced over by impeccable BBC accents, you’re grossly underestimating the stupidity of the human race – it will be more difficult to get to that tipping point again, I believe, but destruction will be a lot quicker and more widespread with the weaponry at hand.
So as the dust settles, and cooler heads begin prevailing, here’s the rock and hard place our Trump and Brexit supporting friends find themselves stuck between. Either they insist on a hard line implementation of everything promised before the votes were counted, knowing full well that if enough of a chorus is raised and those in power have their hand forced it will in fact come back to bite us all in the ass…or stay quiet, and in doing so tacitly admit that it was never about workable proposals, it was about supporting people who gave voice to the prejudices that they hold. An affirmation that their racism, or xenophobia, or sexism, or misogyny, is in fact acceptable – without having to be individually accountable for it. And I’m betting on the latter…it seems, from where I’m sitting, that people just wanted to get together in a large enough group so that they felt it was ok to be a dick without being accountable for changing.