I am a pessimist and as David Mitchell says: “The good thing about being a pessimist is that you are never truly disappointed.”
So Trump is president of the United States of America. And? Yes, it’s bad news but only a fool would not have seen it coming, I feel.
I don’t venture into “T told you so” anymore because I have stopped telling people “so” a long time ago for I have always been accused of being a pessimist, of always seeing the bad in everything.
My pessimism goes to such an extent that people don’t believe me or sometimes they even think I’m rooting for the bad ones to win so to shake up everything with a wrecking ball – alike to those who say “a good war would be good.” Last month, I was talking to some people who asked me why I wanted to leave France again and I said: “I am not going to stand there and be an accomplice to Marine Le Pen winning the elections.”
That was very unwelcome amongst the people present, especially two black friends who reacted badly but it’s a truth I can’t help to believe in. I was told “my cynicism was sickening.”
I am accused of not giving people enough credit but as Roisin Conaty said to Ian Hislop when she predicted Trump as a president and he told her not to be so defeatist: “Brexit!”
I want to believe in people, in the good in them, in their supposed selflessness; I want to jinx the “Marine LePen = Présidente”, believe me, I do! But my conviction is that she will win, I never had faith in humanity which makes it even more important for me to vote against her – because my pessimism not is stopping me from wanting to play my part in preventing what I know to be coming.
Even more so, I am so terribly convinced it is lurking and waiting, I believe in my personal little mission to do what I can to stop it.
So, no. I am not surprised Trump was elected. I had my doubts and kept hoping until the FBI came out as people were already voting to say that there were more emails and there could be something there, just to say it was nothing a couple of days before the actual election.
That guy tried to save his skin but he has killed his career for he has proved himself a terrible liability for all parties. Trump sees him as someone who tried to undermine his rhetoric all the way, and a uncontrollable electron who will drop terribly undermining bombshells at any time; and the Democrats are now convinced it was the worst choice Obama has ever made in his entire career.
I know all this and knew it was coming because of that cynicism people are accusing me of.
Cynicism comes from knowing so much that you cannot help but question everything. My anxiety means that facing with any situation, I over-analyse everything, thoroughly. And it applies to everything I take an interest in, including the US elections.
I read, watched, listened, witnessed and like Brexit, tried to jinx it and to convince myself it would not happen but the pessimist in me knows what anger drives people to do. History is here to teach us something – which is why it’s so gladly rewritten when not deemed unnecessary, as it is in the US school system, by the affluent and powerful who find solace in the masses’s “blissful ignorance”.
When Cameron announced the date of the referendum, I went on Facebook at once and said, months earlier, that, as an historian, it was a very exciting moment as they would leave the EU and the UK would break after 300 years.
I am not pretending to be some kind of psychic Cassandra but as an historian by education, I have crucially learnt to read the signs. Throughout history, there are circles, even back in the Middle Ages when periods of freedom, openmindness were abruptly stopped by a conservative backlash.
Today, it’s the backlash against the rights movements and the minorities they protect, all blamed for all the pain the former privileged ones are experiencing or are afraid to experience. It’s not the poor and disenfranchised who made Trump president, it’s the authoritarian-loving middle class who mostly did, in a desperate bid to stop whatever is seen as a risk to turn them into what they despise the most: the poor themselves.
It’s the, justified, backlash against the almighty finance and markets who are indeed ruling the world nowadays, thanks to the Republicans as much as the Democrats. It’s the failure of the GOP who lost control of own its God-centred and divisive rhetoric in the hands of the people who this time did not care for God or to go for someone who was “Against everything but…”, rather went for someone who was against everything, full stop.
I can carry on like this forever, going back to Nixon, talking about the US traditional distrust of its own government and therefore habit of electing people who have (close to) no qualifications for the job. Just like I can go back to 1965 to find the seeds of Brexit and 1962 for the upcoming triumph of Front National in France.
Today, Donald Trump is president and anyone who dismissed it is not “out-of-touch with the real people”, just a fool who refused to see the realities of a failed education system and a deeply divided country suffering from the global economic rules the US have been writing and pushing through themselves since the 1950s. That’s the real backlash. People believed it when told it would benefit the First World as a whole and are angry to see that it has turned out to only benefit the likes of Donald Trump, who skillfully managed to play victim of a system supported by Clinton herself. That’s the pessimistic and cynical me, talking.
As an historian, it’s fascinating, more than the Bush era. It’s an end of to post-WWII and post-Cold War US economics and politics as we know it, the beginning of the unknown, the possible worldwide domino-effect but mostly and hopefully the last chapter in the withering of the last superpower under its own contradiction and betrayal of the values that made it strong to begin with. Or more likely, just a blip. A hole in the crouch area of your favourite jeans. You’ll get a new one when you can…