It’s happened. Yes, it’s really happened. That reoccurring nightmare you’ve been having that Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidential election is actually true.
We knew it was coming, but it was no less depressing when it finally did, that moment Barack Obama officially handed the title of commander-in-chief to a man who could hardly be less qualified for the role. The world now watches on with a suspended sense of dread, unsure as to whether he will follow though on his promises now he has taken the oath of office.
Today, even the memes and jokes made at Trump’s expense seemed almost reluctantly funny, perhaps in the knowledge that this figure was a parody no longer. For anyone who had any shred of doubt otherwise, ‘this shit just got real’.
To tell you the truth, I am utterly terrified about what the future holds. The election of Donald Trump is not simply an isolated incident that we can pass off as an anomaly. As we descend into an era of isolation, nationalism and division, the bonds that have largely held Europe in a state of peace for decades are eroding away. Our society has become less tolerant, less inclusive, more selfish, more hateful. Demagogues have become emboldened once again, their propaganda prising open the divisions in our societies, their words feeding upon and intensifying fear and distrust. The echoes of the past are growing louder, clearing a pathway to a future which is too terrible to comprehend.
As someone whose political beliefs are entirely intertwined with progressive ideals and ideas, built on the foundation of thought that people are inherently good, it is crushing to think that our society is retreating back into such darkness.
In all honesty, it can all feel a little overwhelming at times and can leave you asking ‘why do I do it?’. ‘Why do I bother going out on a freezing Saturday morning doorknocking or delivering leaflets?. ‘Why do I leave myself open to abuse, go to excruciatingly boring meetings and spend more time fighting about procedure rather than the things that really matter?’. ‘Nothing changes, in fact we seem to be going backwards, so what. is. the. point.?’.
Perhaps it would be easier to stop fighting, to stop standing up for our beliefs, to stop arguing for our vision of the future. After all, we’ve lost right? ‘Our politics’ has been in retreat for the best of a decade if not longer; despite five torturous years of a Conservative-led coalition government, David Cameron won another five year term; despite being provided with an entirely unclear vision of what a non-European Britain would look like, we narrowly voted to leave; despite a rap sheet longer than a Peter Jackson trilogy, Donald Trump defied basic decency to become the 45th President of the United States of America.
Yes, as I’ve been told on more than one occasion, my politics is dead. So why don’t we all just give up?
Why? Because we’re a stakeholders in the course that the world chooses to take. Because we want to live in a society that is equal, tolerant and at peace. Because if we don’t, then why should we expect anyone else to?
Has the world ever changed for the better when people have stayed at home, closed the curtains, crossed their fingers and hoped for the best? Has equal rights ever been achieved by staying quiet and turning the other way? Has the NHS or the welfare state survived without people fighting for its very existence, time and time again?
No, tempting though it is, easy though it would seem, we cannot stop fighting for what we believe in, even if it can sometimes feel that we are fighting against an overwhelming, unstoppable tide.
The Women’s March tomorrow is unlikely to even flicker in Trump’s gold adorned world; he is after all a man who believes that he has a free pass to put his weird little hands wherever he wishes. Neither is Labour’s NHS campaign going to result in Theresa May producing a few billion quid out of her back pocket, sacking Jeremy Hunt with immediate effect and issuing a full apology on behalf of the Conservative government for driving the NHS down to it’s knees.
But these are not reasons for not trying at all.
Democracy is not about keeping dutifully quiet if your policies and vision fails to gain enough support. In fact, opposition and holding those in power to account is the very thing that underpins a truly democratic society; an absence of proper scrutiny and critical examination, or the wilful oppression of dissenting voices, entirely alters its meaning.
So, do not pull that cover over your head and hope that it’s all not really happening. Do not let the failure of instantaneous change frustrate a greater long-term purpose. Do not wallow in the comfort of an echo chamber consisting of a few like minded people.
Join the Women’s March tomorrow, fight for future of the NHS, lend your support in Copeland and Stoke, get on the doorstep, hit those phones, volunteer in foodbanks and night shelters, write, ‘tweet’, shout and scream from the rooftops.
Whatever you do, do not sit at home waiting for the world to heal itself, because it won’t. Do not stop believing in your ability to bring about change; get out there and add your voice to a collective movement. It might not be tomorrow, it certainly won’t be easy, but if we keep going, if we keep fighting, we can create a vision for the world that isn’t consumed by hate. It can and it will be better.
Now isn’t the time to give up. Now is the the time to stand up and make a difference, arm in arm, together.