In the aftermath of Tuesday’s presidential election, The New Yorker published a requiem for the modern political era that it titled “An American Tragedy.”
And this really is the only way to describe it: if you’re a civilized, cultured person who values facts, tolerance and common decency, the result will feel like a gaping wound to the soul, one that, right now, seems like it might never heal. It is further exasperated by the fact that, like in 2000, the Democrats actually won the popular vote. Today, the world feels like an utterly hopeless void.
But while not surrendering to despair might feel impossible, to do so would give Donald Trump, his bigoted supporters and the con men that will comprise his government a gigantic blank check to do as they please.
We have the right to mourn, but eventually we must lift ourselves up to make life as difficult for them as we possibly can. And while the future might look impossibly bleak, there are a few thin threads of silver lining to this tragedy that should give us the faintest of reasons to hope.
1. It is a much-needed wake up call
All of the pollsters who overwhelmingly pointed towards a Clinton victory were proved wrong to the point of incompetency; we in the media, who unanimously laughed off the possibility of a Trump win were exposed as utterly powerless in swaying public opinion; and the Democratic party, with its boneheaded decision to ignore the anti-establishment mood of the country and appoint the ultimate establishment candidate simply because that’s what they decided to do long ago, are evidently so out of touch that they’re teetering on obsolescence.
The result comes as a shock because we collectively didn’t ask the right questions, we didn’t look in the right places, and ignored "the silent majority," who we dismissed as an imaginary monster under the bed.
The silent majority is there and it let out a roar, and we’d better start listening – particularly the Democrats, who sold out their blue-collar strongholds like Wisconsin for tax-dodging billionaires in Silicon Valley. When we start listening, we can start responding and that’s the first step towards making the politics of decency electable again.
2. It could spark the end of neoliberalism
When Slavoj Žižek, the world’s most en vogue philosopher, pondered over the possibility of a Trump presidency last week he said “if Trump wins, both big parties, Republicans and Democrats, would have to return to basics, rethink themselves…it will be a new kind of popular awakening. New political processes will be set in motion, will be triggered.”
Trump on the right and Sanders on the left are representative of a dual rejection of the neoliberal consensus. Leftist writer, environmentalist, and all-round intellectual Naomi Klein took to Twitter to declare that it is “time to bury neoliberalism” – an economic model that has only served the richest of the rich.
While Trump’s supporters yearn to reclaim white privilege, what most people on both sides of the partisan divide can agree on is economics. Capitalism in its current form isn’t working for the masses, and maybe a seismic shock like this one is exactly what it needs to wipe the slate clean and start again.
Democrats grew complacent under Obama because things were going well and this terrible defeat might just prove to be the jolt progressives need to think up a respectable populist alternative to Trump.
3. Weed legalization is doing well
All of the “positives” I’ve mentioned so far are, admittedly, merely theoretical. But there was at least one quantifiable step in the right direction to emerge from this whole miserable mess: progress on weed legalization.
Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada, along with stumping for Hillary, approved recreational marijuana initiatives, as did Maine, while Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas did the same for the medicinal equivalent, whereas voters in Montana chipped away at some of the restrictions around it. The only voters that rejected progress on the weed front were those in Arizona, but they picked Trump too. Go figure.
At least some American citizens will be able to sedate themselves from the terrible reality in which they now live, and with a growing number of states spurning draconian drug laws, maybe this is the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs.
4. Trump can’t possibly deliver
The Donald’s entire campaign was built on empty promises and outright deceptions on which he can’t possibly deliver. He has no political experience, no coherent ideas (as evidenced by his 141 policy shifts on 23 political issues), and the only thing he really ever offered was a catchy slogan and a delusional fantasy to return America to the 1950s. It won’t happen.
Manufacturing jobs aren’t going to return because it decreases the profit margins of corporations, and increases the retail price of goods. Even Trump himself employs cheap foreign labor.
His ideas have no basis in economic reality, and will prove destructive. He has lied to an angry electorate, and when they realize that they’ve been duped by their supposed champion, they will be furious. Roll on 2020.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those solely of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole.