COLUMN: The dangers of a Trump presidency.
NEW YORK: As the Fall mélange turn leaves into a riot of colors, change hue, Democrats fervently hope that despite lack of blue leaves on trees – unless coniferous Colorado Blue Spruce can be imagined as one with its illusionary blue needles – skies all over America are a bright blue come tomorrow; Hillary Clinton is the new President-Elect. Republicans, no doubt, would hope fall leaves cascade, cover the ground in glorious red, catapult Donald Trump from Fifth Avenue to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
There’s also a palpable feeling, in small and big towns, all over America, a hunger for reconciliation, to bring to an amicable end the bitter rancor, distrust, racism, sexism, animosity, name-calling, ugliness and divisiveness of the past 18 months. Seek supplication at the house of worship of one’s choice. Believe it’s all over, say, thank goodness it’s behind us!
Yet, there’s an underlying, uneasy sense of fear too, dread of perpetuation of unpleasantness after the election results tonight – that the country could hark back to evils of segregation, cruelties of the era before the mid-sixties. Civil discord would become easy to nurture, like the fast-growing houseplant Philodendrons, which can grow to six feet in length, in no time at all.
The people of this country want desperately to wrap themselves tonight in the colors of American flag, hugging the purity and innocence of white; hold on tightly to the hardiness and valor of red, admire the vigilance, perseverance and justice of blue; sleep, dream of a perfect tomorrow. A new beginning, after eight years of the Obama administration.
What’ll happen tomorrow? We’ll soon know in a few hours, of course.
If Clinton, who after she voted for herself – called it a “humbling” moment – will become the first woman president of the greatest free nation on Earth. Or the braggadocio of a calculating, brash, carnal pleasure-loving businessman, who caught the pulse of the white underprivileged men and women in America, managed to pull off an impossible Houdini trick, weaseled his way through to becoming the commander-in-chief. Won, despite being shackled with shameful accusations from almost all sections of society.
In some ways, modern America, its generosity, greatness and compassion, has been damaged, shaken at the roots, even before the results pour in tonight. Courtesy of Trump.
The wall that Trump promised to build, to halt illegal immigration from Mexico, and to cleanse America of illegal Mexicans with a deportation force, may or may not materialize, could turn out to be a vote-mongering strategy, illogical, financially improbable, weeded out, doomed from its onset. But the notion of segregation of Mexicans, and other illegal aliens who have carved a life, niche for themselves in this country, has been implanted in many American homes and their conscience.
The notion that Mexicans are condemned, are third grade citizens, ‘allowed’ – depending on who wins tonight – to live their life in America on a short lease, to say. Just like the Blacks were treated not so long ago, till the mid-sixties. And, it’s a totally different argument if racial segregation has indeed been banished from America or lurks furtively just beneath its surface. The Black Lives Matter movement may have plenty to say about that.
Most legal residents rightly acknowledge the need to banish illegal immigration. But to do so with Trump’s intent of dehumanizing an entire community, tear apart families with impunity, will scar America for decades to come. Never mind the illegal alien community is used to being shamed and humiliated – which for them happens on a daily occurrence sometimes; fear of deportation shrouding every moment of their waking lives.
With a Trump presidency, there’s danger of racial segregation coming back openly again. Four million Blacks were enslaved before the Civil War. There are 16 million illegal Mexicans, Indians, Chinese, and from other parts of the world, who fear for their homes, lives and property, are petrified at the knowledge that their children might be taken away from them, await with a sinking feeling in their heart, for results tonight. If Trump wins, their nightmare starts tomorrow in broad daylight. Trick or treat. Halloween might become a daily festival of sorts.
The hatred and anger Trump has sown for Muslims and minorities whom he’s painted as terrorists and foreign monsters who take away jobs, will rear its snarling head for decades to come. A contentious issue, it’ll malign diplomatic relations with many countries. Kill America’s image as the land of the melting pot.
Some Americans will surely question brutal societal changes under a Trump presidency. Most will know for sure though what it’s like to live in a country which abhors some people, tolerate others, look down upon some others, dismiss with a smirk and disdain yet some others. They’ll feel the scorn when they travel abroad. The white supremacists, the David Dukes, will rejoice. Intimidate their neighbors, communities. But most Americans won’t. Shame has its limits too, as America might know in the days and months to come. Despair often follows shame.
The problem for America is that even before the results come in tonight, its arteries are clogged; it needs corrective surgery, resuscitation to survive from Trump’s brutal campaign of spewing hatred, at left and right. His campaign aides may have kept him away from his twitter account, taken his phone away from him, but for how long? Be ready for some ‘presidential’ tweets at 3 a.m. in the morning degrading foreign leaders, and political opponents, once he gets to the White House, and the rejoicing and celebrations are done with. Trump is surely not becoming president so some lowly aides can control his life and actions. He wants free rein for action. Ensure authentic type of governing in the four years he may get to do what he wants to do. America having an economic, diplomatic heart attack is a real possibility.
It’s anybody’s guess if like Phobos, who was the personification of fear in ancient Greek mythology and went to battle against the ancient war goddess Enyo, Trump will take America to war and create havoc for its allies and citizens, make the country a pariah when it comes to good judgment.
The greater problem is that Trump has already waged an ideological war at home, which may escalate whether or not he wins. Talk of a rigged election is thinly veiled suggestion for and cajoling of supporters to stage a civil war, if he’s a loser. He only loves winning, at any cost.
We don’t know if Trump will win, though. Maybe he won’t. Perhaps, he’ll lose tonight. Voters will reject him, and his poisonous ideology. Balance in public life and politics will be restored with Clinton as president. The imminent threat of a democracy turning into an autonomy will dissipate. The country will go back to improving its record at erasing unemployment, creating jobs, helping the middle class get ahead. Resolve immigration issues humanely. Sow respect, not discord. Laugh at the craziness of this election. Say, never again, at the idea of elevating another Trump as a nominee. Trump will become fodder for late night stand-ups. Go back to building his condominiums, hotels and golf courses, or lend his name to new ones.
Clinton, if she wins tonight, will, no doubt, help America become greater. Help communities become stronger. Help the rest of the world bounce back economically. Forge new allies, destroy ISIS like she destroyed Osama bin Laden. Grind out the evil of terrorism. Most importantly, restore faith in values of decency, put onus on doing right, condemning what’s wrong, rewarding what’s right. It’s what America cherishes. What the world admires it for.
We will know in a few hours.
(Sujeet Rajan is Editor-in-Chief, The American Bazaar. Follow him @SujeetRajan1)