We’re only a day away from coming to terms with a newly elected president of the free world. We must also come to terms with a campaign that has dragged the rest of the world through the mud. It has been a bitter, tiring, challenging and angst ridden 12 months, and one of the most divisive and complex campaign races in modern political history.
Whilst most people look for hyperboles to try and rationalise how we got here, other people use intellectual reasoning. In dinner debates and columns, podcasts and cover stories, from republican right wing media to left wing progressives, everyone has been espousing their own beliefs on this unprecedented election. You name it; NPR, The NY times, the Atlantic, Slate, The Washington Post to the Financial Times, I’ve listened to them all. I’ve even gone as far to entertain some of Milo Yiannopoulos’s circus style radical views.
Whilst we all make our opinions known, some of us close to weeping, and some just looking plainly confused, there is one aspect that remains little discussed, and that is self-reflection. For a country which in 250 years has become the most bizarre democratic experiment of the 20th Century, it is confounding that someone like Donald J. Trump, someone with such extreme and polarising views, hadn’t arrived at the White House earlier. Richard Nixon? Perhaps, if he had ignored his impeachment. Franklin D. Roosevelt? A democratic socialist nightmare? Not quite. Andrew Jackson? The case can certainly be made for the seventh president of the U.S. who ruled from 1829 to 1837, whom famously ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling on Indian Removal and killed countless American Indians. But in the modern age no one comes close to the totalitarian ideology that Trump brings with him. Some people claim that the Tea Party spawned Trump as offspring, but even they could not have predicted such outlandish despotic behaviour.
Not one iota of critical collective self-reflection has emerged from any pundit or media outlet. But if we take a step back and look at America in its context, the America that gave us fake breasts, PR machines, Hollywood, soft power, knee jerk reactions, proxy wars, over-crowded prisons, Cops (the TV show), social media, Snooki of Jersey shore, and celebrity in all its glory, then it all starts to make sense doesn’t it? We all love America but these are the things that have brought us to the position we’re in now of almost wanting to break up with country.
No one will claim responsibility for Donald Trump, but a country of 300 million inhabitants shouldn’t be amazed that together through its industries, history and uniqueness it created its own Frankenstein’s monster.
Don’t get me wrong, America has given the world many great things, and we should be in praise of a country that respects ‘free speech’ at any cost. But now in 2016, an epic moment in our history has arrived and however America decides to vote, I think we should all take a moment to step back and recognise that America has itself to blame and that more collective self-reflection on both an international stage and domestic level would be warmly welcomed by everyone.
Ari Stein is the editor of 52 Insights