Idk if anyone’s noticed (lol) but I’m filthy mad about this election. Not just because of Trump himself, but because the whole thing represents, better than anything, one of the world’s most significant problem in recent years. We are moving away from our Enlightenment ideals - tolerance, progress, and liberty - with fanfare. Under the guise of saving western culture, we are threatening its core principles. We are neglecting the lessons of history that millions fought and died for: authoritarianism is a dangerous (yet insidious) thing, vilification of minority groups is wrong (demonstrated, time and time again), nationalism is inherently diversionary at best and leads to wars/ crimes against humanity at worst.
It seems people do not care. They don't care what evidence is presented, nor what experts tell them again and again - Michael Gove MP’s declaration that “people in this nation have had enough of experts” is seemingly correct. Anti-intellectualism runs rampant in our countries, and demagogues dealing in emotional rhetoric are trusted over qualified/educated people offering comparatively boring rationality. Populists, the world over, have captured public support with simple solutions to complex problems. People are being conned - mostly, the less educated and those hit hardest by economic instability - into voting for their lies and in doing so, are choosing someone who will make their situation worse. While the lower classes previously exercised their collective power to attack ‘big business’ (the actual “elites”) and obtain working rights now taken for granted, corporations have managed to subvert (though media ownership, global influence, etc) this collective force by labelling educated people/experts/academics as the “elites”. This is the new era of populism, and it’s horrifying – the people with the very capacities to fix the world’s problems are being dragged down in favour of firebrands who will only exacerbate them.
Also accompanying the rise of demagoguery is that things previously unthinkable are now normalised: Geert Wilders calling for mass deportations based on religion would have caused absolute outrage a decade ago, as would an American presidential candidate labelling an election “rigged” and thus attacking core democratic process. These people are gaining massive political power through their deceptions of the vulnerable. And it has terrifying ramifications, on a global scale – nationalism and insular policies are growing at a time when it has never been more important to work together. The political power of demagogues proposing authoritarian platforms, in worsening the east/west and muslim/west divide, in denying the existence of climate change, in allowing environmental destruction that will be forever irreparable, in turning people against immigrants/minority groups to distract from the actual sources of problems, in promoting blind emotion over sound policy… it means that I am going to grow up, try and get a career, and have a family in a more unstable and unfair world. Yep, I’m absolutely filthy mad that I’m living in the era of Trump, Brexit, and widespread anti-minority sentiment. Our wonderful, advanced democracies are taking several leaps backwards and my generation is the one condemned to live it.