The stock market tanked overnight, Putin & the Russians are celebrating, and Muslims and Mexican Americans are asking themselves if they should stay or leave the country. What has brought about this strange chain of events? In case you are living under a rock, Donald Trump has been elected the next President of the United States!
Despite being one of the richest countries in the world with one of the highest standards of living and more freedoms than almost any other nation in the world, Americans have decided that's not enough. We need to take better care of our own interests. Trump has promised to make America great again, promising an economy which hearkens back to the America of the 1950s and 60s when the post war industrialization and baby boom lifted the population and the fortunes of almost all of us. With all the factories running full speed ahead, there was no shortage of jobs, and the standard of living for the average American rose higher than ever imagined.
This went on for decades, until 1994. Then came the North American Free Trade Agreement passed by President Bill Clinton, and as Ross Perot once put it, a “huge sucking sound” was heard across the country as many of our manufacturing jobs went elsewhere. Americans have adjusted to the new norm by taking jobs in the service industry, health care, and the computer industry, among others. This is not to say that NAFTA did not have adverse affects, but the average American is still wealthy compared to those of many other countries around the world. To prove this, just ask yourself how many cars your family owns? How many televisions, video games, and cell phones? When was the last time you went more than a few hours without food? I realize some Americans lack those things, but the vast majority of us compared to other nations do not.
But still we feel slighted. Donald Trump knew this and so he has promised to bring lots of manufacturing jobs back to America by imposing high tariffs on foreign goods and penalties on companies that move production elsewhere. Never mind the fact that many of those companies are the very ones that still employ thousands of Americans here in the U.S. as well. Forcing companies to manufacture products in the U.S. will force either prices here at home and abroad to go higher, or wages to go lower in order to compete with India, China, and others. (Did I mention that Donald also wants to abolish the minimum wage?) He will bring jobs back but at a cost because either our markets will dry up because we can't compete or wages will drop.
He's also going to build a wall along our Southern border to keep out illegal immigrants and force Mexico to pay for it (although they have flatly denied this.) He's going to deport all illegal immigrants.
These are just a few of him amazing claims to fix everything wrong in America singlehandedly. Has he ever delineated how he is going to do all these amazing things? No, he hasn’t got a clue, but that doesn’t matter to us gullible Americans. We bought it hook line and sinker, and so we chose him for to be our next president starting in January of 2017. We have had things so good for so long, it would never occur to us that someone may not have our best interests at heart. He’s a billionaire, right? That means he’s smart and can do anything he says he can do. Well I think he’s a billionaire. That’s what his tax returns say, I mean, oops, oh wait a minute…..
But at least he’ll keep us safe. He knows more about ISIS than the generals. More importantly, he will have full access and control of the largest most powerful military in the world. That might come in handy after the next presidential election, or even in 2024 when his term limit is up, in case he gets beat. He’s already told us he doesn’t like defeat. He said himself that he would refuse to concede if he loses at the polls. That will be a lot easier to do in a few years when he has full control of the army, navy, air force, and marines. If he wants to stay President, it will take a coup to remove him from office, if he so desires. At least that's what his words suggest.
There was a strange quietness among the people I work with today. I know that a lot of them are staunch Republicans and voted for Trump, but for all their talk and bluster I don’t think they ever really expected him to win. They thought they were casting useless protest votes against Hillary Clinton and the evil she represents in the Republican psyche. Today, though, there was a stunned silence hanging in the air. It was as if we were a group of adolescents that had played a dirty trick on an elderly neighbor, only to find out the next morning that we burned her house down and killed everyone in it. The atmosphere seemed to be tinged with shock, amazement, guilt, remorse, and awe at the power of our own actions to wreak havoc. It was if everyone was silently waiting for the next shoe to fall, and fall it will, though nobody knows what form that will take. Given Trump's unpredictability and instability, anything could happen.
I think the leaders we choose are a reflection of our own selves looking back at us. This year I see a very ugly reflection. It's meanness, and misogeny, and bigotry, and selfishness, and lack of compassion for those less fortunate, all wrapped up into one. It's a refusal to recognize the humanity in others, and unwillingness to share the blessings we have with those less fortunate. It's an "I want more" attitude and to hell with those who get in my way. Want a great country? How about fostering an environment where the gifts of others are welcomed and nurtured, regardless of where they came from, what they look like, or how they worship, as long as they are working toward the goals we all share and play by the rules.
Let’s hope Donald Trump and a good deal of the rest of us awaken out of our xenophobic, misogynistic, fear-and hate-mongering trances to realize that the future of America is in large part riding on our words and actions in the next four years and beyond. Let's put aside the bickering and arguing and recognize each other as fellow citizens of this great land, and let's work together to keep America as great as she has always been.