The news has broken. Mr. Donald Trump is the next American president. You can cry and bang your head on the wall but the die is cast. Deal with it. He weathered the storm and emerged victorious. So many people the world over are sad but I am happy-sad. It’s a bittersweet event for me.
First of all, why are people sad? They’re sad because they see Trump as the 21st century version of Adolf Hitler. So many people are predicting World War III with Trump as American president. They’re justified to think so. The way the fella conducted himself throughout the campaign leaves no room for thinking otherwise. I understand the line of thought and it’s justified.
I’m sad for the same reasons why so many people are sad. On the other hand, I’m happy that once more, we’ve gotten ourselves in front of a mirror to see ourselves and know who we are as a people. This election is downright honest, with our realities bared to the bones. It’s a scorecard of how far the human civilization has progressed. This is the president Americans deserve right now. He represents their urges. Or the urges of a large cross-section of that society. And the rest of the world that depends so much on the American nation also needed this jolt.
However I have an inkling that things won’t turn out in the very negative way people have anticipated. World War III won’t happen. Foreigners won’t get chased out of the US. I don’t know if this is more of blind optimism — a part of you that just wants to hope for the best in every situation — or some carefully calculative prediction. But I digress. That’s not what this article is all about.
This article is about what this says about American democracy rather than what it means for American democracy. OK. Substitute ‘American democracy’ with ‘human race’ and you have a feel of why someone like me who is not an American and doesn’t have plans of migrating took time out to be writing about an American election. There are many stakes for everybody here, American or not. And this election says a lot about us, every member of the human race, whether American or not.
First of all, let me tell you my model for Trump’s victory. Trump got his votes from three groups of people:
1. Folks with racist leanings. Rednecks. Islamophobics. Xenophobics. White supremacists. Those who had always wanted the walls built but had been denied of their wish by the liberalist rhetoric of the successive tenures. From day one, these were always going to vote for Trump. Well, it’s not as if Hilary isn’t a racist herself. She has done racist things in the past especially to us Africans but this time around, she got on the bandwagon of liberalist rhetorics and white supremacists preferred Trump who actually voiced it.
2. Folks who were fed up with the establishment which Hilary represented. Too bad for her. Cue Obamacare as an example. Bernie Sanders would’ve given the Democrats a far bigger chance concerning this.
3. Folks who shifted in the last minute. If this election had been held say one month earlier, the momentum was with her. But as the emails and connected issues started cropping up, the tide kept shifting. Some people were not impressed with the way the Democrats went about the response to this challenge. They fled to Trump in the closing stages of the race.
Now let’s see what the whole thing says about human beings.
The Most Important Decisions are Taken on Instincts
That’s it. People don’t always think decisions through before taking them.
Early in our evolution, we relied on instincts. Impulse. When you’re faced with an impending danger, that’s not the time to think and analyze. Critical thinking or whatever we call it gets thrown outta the door. The hormones take over. The three F’s — fright, fight, flight — get activated. The feelings. The urges. The brain rush. That happens in elections a lot. That’s why you see people ending up voting only to regret shortly thereafter. Brexit is a typical example. People finished voting and thereafter took to Google search to know why they had voted.
Instinct leads to intuition and both can be stupid. While I shouldn’t insult anyone’s right to vote for whoever during an election, I can’t but wonder why women voted for someone that seemed to have violated everything womanhood stands for. But making that statement says you’re not looking at the big picture. It’s way more than that, far less simplistic. That’s it. It’s part of humanity. We can be rash at times.
Predictability is Key to Survival
What does it say? It says something that goes way back in our evolutionary roots. Survival was based on predictability. If I could adequately predict that all the stones and trees around will remain here while that animal will go that way and not this way, I can plan my own escape route if the moving animal is my predator or plan my attack if the moving animal is my prey. Either way, escaping a predator or successfully capturing a prey is very essential for my survival. In a world where the animal can move unpredictably and the trees too are moving haphazardly, my escape or prey-hunting fails. I don’t get to live to pass my genes down to the coming generations. Blah blah blah if you’re conversant with evolutionary biology.
This basic human trait developed into things like confidentiality and trustworthiness. Hilary Clinton and her campaign train lost credibility after Wikileaks and FBI came up. The way they went about handling the issues showed they were not trustworthy. People sometimes don’t care if you’re kind or brutal. Just be predictable. Don’t say one thing and do another. Trump appears like someone that will do what he says even if what he says he will do doesn’t sound too nice. Hilary on the other hand sounds like someone that can’t be trusted with her words.
Racism is Still Real
Early in our social evolution, as we moved from hunter-gatherers into organized societies (beginning of agriculture), for the sake of land and other resources, we killed those who didn’t belong to our group. Thousands of years thereafter, even when we’ve developed the ability to generate abundant resources, the urge is still very much alive. We thought we had evolved beyond it but Donald Trump connected with the racists in many Americans’ hearts and they responded.
And you can’t be sure you’re not a racist yourself. With the right ingredients provided to you, you can say worse things than Donald Trump. South Africa is notorious for xenophobic attacks on fellow Africans. Back here in my country, even though we claim to practise federalism, ethnicity still goes very strong during general elections. Citizens find it difficult to get jobs in states that aren’t their states of origins. A particular tribe was even once told to vacate a particular state and relocate to their state of origin. Talk of getting deported within your own country? We’re all hypocrites. Most people condemning Donald Trump’s utterances have worse racist tendencies but they hide. This world would be a better place if we could look in the mirror and see ourselves first of all.
In summary, Trump’s victory may sound extraordinary to you but it really isn’t. It’s just another incident that showcases who we are as humans. It’s rash enough for some of us to warrant serious soul-searching.