Yesterday a man who rode a tide of lies, white suprematism, and misogyny through one of the ugliest displays of semi-democracy I’ve ever seen* was inaugurated as the President of the United States of America. A lot of people are pretending that they don’t really know what he’s going to do next, but they’re kidding themselves. He’s going to try to do all of the things that he said he was going to try to do, and then some.
Trump is a British word meaning ‘fart’. Yesterday there was a massive Trump in America. This is the worst kind of hot noise there is. A massive, rancid explosion of flabulous fart that spreads like toxic waste.
However, there is hope. Where in the past a hot and noisy Trump would pass by unremarked (though everybody would wonder with concern about its source while adopting expressions to indicate that it definitely wasn’t their fault), this time it is being called out as the sort of unacceptable behaviour that really isn’t acceptable in a small enclosed space like the Planet Earth.
I’m not able to join the marches, led by women on a platform of equality but embracing so many similar issues trampled over by Supreme Leader Trump, but I would if I could. I love that what I’ve seen have been predominantly smart and joyous events despite the anger fuelling them, a massive proactive counter-statement that, no, we’re not going to accept that the world is how you Tweet it to be. Massive changes are about to be made to our countries by people with very slender mandates, and while it’s right to accept the votes that brought us to where we are, it’s also right not to pretend that there is solidarity about those decisions.
Today is hot sexy noises, and I hope it will be the start of a huge surge in positive engagement. It’s been difficult for various issues to be advanced in recent years, because things were generally moving (much too slowly) in a progressive direction. Now there is something in the way of progress…something almost like a wall. You can push against a wall. You can knock it down. You can dig around it. You can make The Hoff strut like a drunken loon atop it while you blow it up**. Walls can be energising, although perhaps not in the way that He Who Shall Not Be Named intends. While in some ways the rise of the Right is a bad thing, which will cause more bad things in times not too far off, it’s also a potential kick up the arse for many of us progressives who have been too complacent in recent years.
Trump, the Brexiteers, and many others have been quick to declare that if you do not fully embrace their decisions then you are undemocratic. You are not a patriot. Me, I think patriotism is an outmoded idea with very little value in today’s world (so yeah, call me unpatriotic if you like – nations are not actually real things, just fabricated tools that enable humans to operate on a large scale, with no particular entitlement to exist if they cease to perform that function well), and I think democracy is all about ongoing discussions and arguments between people who have different ideas about things. A vote isn’t the end of a discussion. It’s the start of a new one.
Today’s activities, all over the world, are a very timely reminder of that. Those in opposition against the new status quo have been gifted something to push against, and while such times carry risk they also present unexpected opportunities, as the Right have just demonstrated. Over the next decade, let’s push back.
But let’s push back against ideologies, not people. It’s ideas that we’re fighting for and against. People can be persuaded – and only persuasion will ever make a lasting change. That’s why the new status quo is necessarily unstable. The votes were won, but not the arguments.
Don’t let today be a token kickback. Look for places to act and changes to make, not just on the world stage but in small ways all about you. Don’t let your protests begin and end with ‘Let’s see if we can get this picture of Obama a thousand Likes’, because then all we’ll have is a picture of Obama with a thousand likes, and that doesn’t actually mean anything.
Engage, debate, make small changes that might feed into big ones. Create hot noise, wherever you can***.
*For a brief and shining moment the UK’s Brexit vote put us head and shoulders above other Western democracies in terms of nationalistic stupidty, but America is capable of matching us idiocy for idiocy. I’m not prepared to declare a final winner yet, especially with France about to make its own challenge for the crown, Brexit only just beginning, and four years for the US to really riff on the whole apocalyptic self-destruction thing it has going on.
**Let’s definitely do that.
***Which is exactly what my friend Jackie Donnelly is doing as I type this – the image above is copyright to her, and used here with her permission.