I wake up today feeling groggy and impossibly cold. Thoughts are not yet verbal, and in my minds eye I see an image of Hilary Clinton. I lurch to my phone, barely awake. What had happened? Frustratingly, my phone won’t connect to Wi-Fi, so I just squint at a blank screen for about 15 seconds in confusion, still waking up. Ryan’s voice reaches my ears: “It’s not looking good, baby”.
I turn, barely my second movement of the day. My eyes are not really open but I know Ryan is awake and at the end of the bed getting dressed for work. “What? Trump’s in?” I croak. “Yep. Over 270. He got Florida. Result came in around 6” says Ryan. He sounds calm, and yet my heart feels like it is plummeting. My phone finally connects to internet, as though it were waiting for confirmation from Ryan that it was ok to let me see the news. I feel a rush around my head, although there is no wind, and tears are in my eyes before I have even processed what I am hearing.
That was the story of this morning. I have been writing and re-writing this post all day since that moment. I feel utter, utter desperation that Trump has triumphed. Trump’s clearly a narcissistic, misogynistic, racist sociopath who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the nuclear codes. The debates were a joke, the campaign bizarre and unprecedented. So soon after we, the British people had fucked up, no way would America do the same, I thought. Clinton is a leader, Donald is a joke. And yet, here we are. What the fuck? People talk about “the work to be done”. What if I don’t want to work on repairing the country? That is supposed to be the job of the politicians. We should have the police to keep us safe, not to kill us. We should have medical professionals to help us and our bodies, not a choice between expensive paywalls and underfunded charities. We should have governments and ministers leading us how to look after the environment, not grassroots movements trying desperately to keep the meagre laws that already exist intact.
I exist in a bubble of artists, performers and writers. The vast majority of people in my life are like me: working in arts and entertainment, politically left, vegetarian or vegan, and in their 20s or 30s. Though I know it’s not really the case, I imagine the rest of the world is mostly made up of these kinds of people. It’s all I see and all I know, and all I have known for many years. I am Average Joe. Through university and my first few years in the adult world, the people I surrounded myself with became a point of honour. It is only recently I have felt confusion.
The biggest shock of the 2015 UK general elections was that I was in a tiny minority. I knew there were people not like me and everyone I know, but I didn’t realise they were the majority of the country. I was living in some sort of dream world, and the reality was David Cameron. I felt like I had slipped onto the wrong side of a hologram, or like I was stuck in some insane level of a game. Who the fuck voted for Cameron?! I realised I’d been in a bubble; maybe a London bubble, or an arts bubble, or a young people bubble.
Stupidly, I forgot I was in a bubble this year when Brexit rolled around. Fat bloody chance that will happen, I thought. But no. The majority of the country voted for an openly racist campaign of lies. I remember ranting at my Dad when the news came out: who are these people who voted Leave? Who the fuck are they? Where are they? Why don’t we see them on the streets? Are they in my twitter feed? Are they silent Facebook friends? Where are they?!
I forgot, again, that I am living in a bubble, when the US elections rolled around. It’s hard to understand how the other half is thinking, because I live in a bubble. Nobody near me has any insight. Occasionally somebody will start with “oh, you know, the pissed off miners in the north”, or “oh, you know, the crazy, racist redneck people in the middle”. Actually, no, I don’t know. I don’t know about these small, isolated extremists and I don’t know, apparently, about over half the country, because I live in a bubble.
In my own extensive American family we may well have a Trump voter: my Mum refuses to talk to them, or me, about it. Why? I’ve ended up in blazing arguments before with her racist relative but my Mum is not the fighting kind*. In my boyfriend’s family there is a racist Leave voter in plain sight. I am not allowed to meet them, because I am not white, and may not be safe. I will never set foot in Ryan’s whitewashed, Leave-voting home village again, because last time I was there I got stared at in Sainsburys. It would be hilarious if it didn’t feel like every day was a step towards a more frightening place.
How is that ok? People don’t want to have the difficult conversations, so they don’t, and then shit like this happens. My instinct is to run away, but that solves nothing. I hold UK citizenship, but I am eligible for citizenship in a further 4 countries, one being the US. I could apply for Mauritian citizenship; they are a small, conflict-free country (above). They have a female, academic president who has a pHD in organic science, and is a biodiversity expert. I could probably live a very happy life in Mauritius, but… I don’t want to. I want to live in New York, or London. I don’t want to be scared to visit my family in the US, but I am: I’m not white, I’m a woman, I have Muslim ancestry and connections. Ryan and I visit in December. Will I be allowed in?
It’s hard to know why these things happen. People rattle off phrases like disenfranchised voters and lower working-classes, but the stats tell a different story. Why are white women voting for Trump? Why isn’t feminism reaching people? Why are young white males with college degrees voting for Trump? What are people scared of? When people look past the racism and lies, what do they see? Why do people put the racism to one side and let fear of “migrants” overtake them?
Why did we have so many young people regretting votes in this country? Is it education? Nobody had explained how a referendum worked? Nobody understand the polling system? Maybe the Leave voters once clicked on a pro-British meme via Facebook in passing, and the algorithms meant next time they logged in they had 5 pro-UKIP status’s and an invitation to a rightwing page. Maybe it’s confusion, or lack of education. Or a shit, ineffective protest. I don’t know.
This is a very inarticulate blog post. I have a lot of things I want to say, but nothing new. I have nothing particularly illuminating – I just don’t want to live in a bubble anymore. I want to be in touch. And I’m tired, and exhausted, and scared, and I feel very isolated. And even though I know a lot of people are feeling the same way, it’s not really helping.