How Trump Will Save the World
When someone asked me about my Oscar predictions last month, I said that Moonlight should win, but honestly didn’t think it would. I didn’t think a movie not only made by African Americans but with a narrative so exclusively about the African American experience could ever win in the new climate of discourse in the US concerning issues that a movie like this would fit into. Never in Trump’s America.
The xenophobic devaluation of race and ethnicity, of whatever did not conform to ‘All American’ ideas and values ushered in by Trump and his brand of rhetoric, made a movie like Moonlight winning seem so unlikely. I remembered thinking all those rich old white guys in the Academy would have no problem giving best picture to some other rich old white guy who had produced one of the other nominated movies (producers traditionally accept the award for best picture). But after Moonlight did win I realized something, it didn’t win in spite of Trump, it won because of Trump (not that it didn’t deserve to, but The Oscars are notoriously political).
Had Hilary been elected, entitled rich, old, and also (this is contextually relevant) hetero, white guys would have had no qualms about patting each other on the backs for being masters of the universe once again. They had nominated Moonlight and Hilary had won, that would have been plenty progressive enough. But now, maybe, they’ve realized they have to take some responsibility in dismantling the sort of prejudice and institutional discrimination (or outright racism) some of Trumps policies would endorse and his rhetoric would promote and legitimize for others.
In this same vein, middle class, white, heterosexual male entitlement may even finally begin to be reevaluated, and a dialogue concerning ideas, solutions, maybe even dismantlement, may become more feasible. Perhaps this group (that I am a member of) coming to terms with the fact that they and their entitlement and privilege may have had a hand in Trumps ascension, maybe even Hilary’s failure, will be a wake-up call of sorts. For surely this sort of entitlement and privilege is part of not only what lifted Trump to his current position of power, but also where he finds the blind justification and legitimization for some of his actions, some of what he says.
When Trump says he’s no politician (at least wasn’t), it was and still is true. Politicians know they can't say and do anything they want, especially not after they've won, especially not because they've won. Trumps complete incomprehension or apathy of the accountability required of politicians and the responsibility, should four years from now (if he doesn't get kicked out before then) lend to Americans imperatively demanding this accountability and responsibility as one of the most prominent virtues of their future leaders. Trump’s belief that he can just ignore the minority (which in this case is actually the majority, the popular vote), the eventual realization that he doesn't have the common person’s best interest in mind, could very well open the door for America to once again be willing to trust a politician who instead of promising a magic wand solution, is instead proposing some short term pain for long term gain. People may no longer simply vote for whomever panders the most effectively to them, understanding the difference between someone who tells them what they want to hear and what they need to hear. And realizing what the result is when they get the person who simply was the best at saying what they wanted to hear at a certain place in time.
Citizens of other democracies may already be taking notice of these things, Trump may have already sunk the right-wing populist brand by stamping his name on it. Now that Trump is the face of this political ideology, people may begin to realize how backwards some of Trumps ideas that fall under this umbrella are, as well as the wider ideology in general in this day and age. The sort of status Trump has conferred on the ideologies that contain values he subscribes to is not one many people in other countries around the world likely want to associate with.
Trump may be the wake-up call America and the world needs. The asteroid we realize at the last minute is on a collision course with earth, causing everyone to pause and think “How did we miss that? How did we let it get to this?” and “How do we fix this before it’s too late?”