Today, Friday 20 January 2017, we see the Donald J Trump be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. And I, as I did when the results of the US election were announced, am scared about what this means for the future of the world.
With the EU Referendum, we discovered what people thought about politicians and politics in general. People were so fed up with the ‘traditional’ way of doing things that the hatred inciting ravings of someone like Nigel Farage resonated with the general public like never before. The media played their part in this, not only in repeating and pushing the same lies that fuelled his rhetoric, but in the way Nigel Farage was presented. Smoking, having a drink down an old fashion pub and appearing on BBC panel shows, Farage was not presented as your typical politician. Even when some areas of the press raised the point that a Euro-sceptic like Farage was continuing to pick up his £84,000 a year salary for being an MEP, despite barely attending any conferences or meetings, he simply shrugged it off as being a sign of how redundant the European Union was.
With Trump, like many things the other side of the pond, we saw much the same as we do here, but over inflated and with none of the subtlety we have over here. Rather than having carefully considered answers that poked the line of racism, Trump scratched carefully written speeches for more off the cusp, verbal puke that was blatantly designed to insight hatred amongst the attendees of his rallies.
The terms post-truth and post-factual have started to become regular ways of describing media presentation, something which truly scares me when you see the impact it has had on both the EU Referendum and the US election. To live in a world where the truth of something is considered less meaningful than how loud and how often you say something is mind boggling to me and when you combine it with the subject matters that it often has, means we all have a lot to be worried about.
In just four paragraphs I feel like I have lost where I initially intended to take this post but I am going to embrace that, for it shows how much this situation has worried me and I actually think it is going to take a series of posts for me to fully get out what I think I want to say.
Before I go though, one thing I do want to say is three simple words which I intend to repeat in the hope people will listen and consider: bridges, not walls. The world is full of different people. Even amongst people of the same race, you will find different languages, dialects, accents, backgrounds and an infinite number of things. The quite literal wall that Trump wants to build along the border with Mexico is only one wall that his reign of terror threatens to build. Less physical but walls that have just as much impact are also threatening to appear around people from minority backgrounds, people with mental health issues, people less financially stable and people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and everything in between. These walls will be significantly less visible but just as real to these people and the effects of isolation are always significant. So from here, whichever way you have voted in recent years, reach out to those you care about and make sure they feel they have friends and family who they reach to in times of need. And whilst it is not always easy to be asked for help, it is so much more difficult to ask for help. Not all help is financial. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can save lives. So again, please, build bridges and not walls.