I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of sorrow for American women today, particularly young women trying to find their esteem and voice in America. I spent most of yesterday trying to intellectualise the outcome, but it comes down to three things, racism, sexism and privilege.
Did you know that 15 years ago ‘The Simpsons’ produced a skit where Trump wins the Presidency with the slogan ‘America, you are my future ex-wife.’ The Presidency is Trump’s vanity project, the crystallization of his ego. I don’t think even he expected it to go so far, but now that he has, I’m filled with dread by the personal power trip on which he will lead America.
The British press have been utterly useless in their commentary. It took them most of the morning to articulate any response and the day was filled with non-reports like rabbits in head lights throwing around incongruous analyses. Today, there is deafening silence, as if they simply don’t know how to be predictive of the obvious. The Irish press by contrast, are enraged with the result, but in much the same way that hearing of the suicide of a close friend unleashes anger and grief.
Trump is a sociopathic narcissist, a misogynist, a hustler, an actor and a sexual predator. It’s this last trait which fills me with horror given the implications for democracy or American feminism, or what’s left of it. Trump seduced America in the most lurid way possible. He offered glamour and played on America’s worship of success, wealth and privilege. He manufactured insecurities and played on them, he said America can be greater, he can fix them, he can make it more beautiful, he alone can enable them. All it would take would be their acquiescence. It was the grooming of an America ravaged by income inequality of which Trump sat at the top table.
I can’t help but come back to the realisation that it was this skillset as a sexual predator and his string of sexual conquests that gave him the roadmap by which to woo an insecure people and buy the Presidency. The implications for democracy are harrowing. He’s a player and the Presidency was his opus. In that vein, I can’t help but think of the movie The Thomas Crown Affair. Steve McQueen is the thrill-seeking millionaire, who plays fast and lose with love and the law to gratify himself, ultimately coming up emotionally empty and cold once he has gained conquest and mastery of his fascination, dumping the blame on his conquest.
The BBC has been obsessed with analyzing Trump ‘ The Statesman’ and I see his speech yesterday has averted meltdown in the markets. Alan Greenspan was on Newsnight last night saying Trump is an actor and now he will act as President. But I’m betting the farm that Trump is a far more twisted soul. A Thomas Crown. I’ll bet he doesn’t see out his Presidency and he’ll weasel his blame onto someone else, anyone else. He can’t delegate responsibility once he gets bored or frustrated with it. The idea that the Republican house and senate will restrain him is ludicrous. He is a demagogue with dark flaws unbound.
America is Trump’s future ex-wife, he’s profoundly dangerous. The only voice of clarity on the news last night was from the historian Simon Schama, who howled at the lack of recognition which race played in the election. This was not just about white angry males in America’s rust bowl, this was about the white middle-class, the white female vote. This was about white privilege and dare I say it white supremacy. Therein, lies the scale of the threat. America has accepted Moral Relativism and has mandated Social Darwinism. Americans, including educated whites, consciously chose to shaft fellow Americans specifically women and minorities in a way far beyond ideological differences. What now for American multi-culturalism? White women are suffering from what the Irish Times called ‘internalized misogyny’. In other words, to get access to privilege, gender values are jettisoned. America was ready for it’s first female President, but what was screamingly obvious, was that it wasn’t Hillary ‘more of the same’ Clinton. The Democratic female leaders share fault in this, but it wasn’t feminism, it was privilege.
Now, under Trump’s ‘new America’ women must now enter the new meritocracy of privilege with the additional caveats of: being under 35, being sexual desirable and being ready to denounce their gender. The incumbent First Lady is a former illegal immigrant, ex-lingerie mode, utterly Machiavellian and willing subservient to a sexual predator in return for obscene privilege.
I truly hope that young female Americans can organise themselves and can retain their identity and values against what has just happened.
~ Letter written by the Irish journalist Brian Byrne to Lawrence Pitkethly, one-time journalist for the BBC, now living in America.