Donald Trump. How did he get such a following? How did a group of people buy into his hatred and overlook his misogyny?
I don't think that is the right question.
I think the more important question is, how did it take the general population by surprise? How did we fall asleep at the wheel to not see such an undercurrent of insecurity, ignorance and hatred that someone such as Trump could harness?
Suddenly the average person is looking around wondering what world they just woke up in.
It's not the haters and the racists and the bigots and the 'basket of deplorables' that created this. It's us.
Last year I could feel the energy building and I said to people around me in my own middle-class, highly educated, Melbourne bubble: "I think he's gonna win, you know." And they snorted. Of course he would not. How could such idiocy possibly sway an election, they suggested. They paid him no attention, they read the hyped-up news as entertainment, much like watching reality tv. And then when he won, the same kind of denial -- he can't do much, it's the administration who runs the government. He can't just make unilateral decisions, especially those that are illegal, much less unethical. Well, he can, he has, he will.
It's not the haters and the racists and the bigots and the 'basket of deplorables' that created this. It's us. We were busy running on the hamster wheel. We were busy with our 9-5 routine, paying our mortgage, kitchen renovations, taking kids to weekend sports activities and birthday parties. We became totally disconnected from the disadvantaged, and those who have not benefited from the same education as us. While we run around in our day-to-day lives in suburbs of relatively wealthy cities, we unconsciously think that this is the world. We believe everyone lives like this.
Well it's not, and they don't.
Those fleeing Syria don't see life as you do. Those working in factories in China on low wages for extremely long hours to make your clothes don't see life as you do. And then, closer to home, the working class who saw their manufacturing jobs going offshore or automated to grow profit margins... they do not see the world as you do. They live in their own bubbles, and they are uncomfortable ones. Trump and his other global separatist comrades tapped into that. He promised them something different, and they wanted to believe him.
Because we have been so asleep we didn't know. We thought 'common sense' might prevail.
Think it's far from your home? Definitely not. I don't live in America, I live in Australia which, on face value, seems to be far removed from any danger of war, civil uprising, or failure of financial institutions (daresay failure of educational institutions based on the secretary selected). But, I'm working with a major defence organisation consulting at the moment and today I realised what would happen to us if we ended up in the cross-hairs of a dispute between America, our greatest national security ally and supplier of much defence equipment, and China, our largest trading partner? Yeah, I don't know the answer either but I'm sure it wouldn't be good.
We can't afford to stay asleep.
The only way that we will avoid a global disaster, which will affect all of us, is to wake up.
I welcome a global shift, however disorienting, distressing, and confronting it may be. The rise up of the disadvantaged, and the voice given to them by the likes of Trump. It brings the inequality into our consciousness and gives us an opportunity to not choose it, to consider what a different world might look like.
I'm talking to you. The middle manager of an IT firm, the personal trainer, the architect, the bank manager.
The only way that we will avoid a global disaster, which will affect all of us, is to wake up. When the critical mass, which is the likes of you and me, starts to take an interest outside of our bubble, educate ourselves, and participate in the world, then we will have a shift in energy towards a greater good rather than dangerous self-protection and territorialism. It's not a battle between the far right and the far left that will restore order, it's the average householder who looks around and says "no, I do not want this".
See more from Kate on her blog ethicalwarrior.com.au.
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