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Take me to your leader

  • Published at 11:52 am November 9th, 2016
  • Last updated at 01:19 pm November 9th, 2016
Take me to your leader

When the aliens land on Earth and want to talk about their plans of destroying your planet so that an intergalactic gas pump can be built through the area, and want to meet the person in charge, who would you take them to?

Would it be President-elect Donald Trump?

Does the thought terrify you, or comfort you?

Such thought experiments don’t matter anymore. The election is over. America has voted.

An unsavoury businessman with a history of dodgy financial dealings, no experience holding political office, and a tendency to mouth off in xenophobic, racist, and a misogynistic ways has won the presidency of the sole global superpower.

The US is seen as the frontier of world justice, and the ultimate discourse of law.

You may hate American foreign policy, but for every global catastrophe, man-made or not, for every regional crisis, for every IS and every al-Qaeda, the eyes of the world turn to the US, waiting for some kind of action. Every significant geo-political issue in the world, in some way or the other, ends up on Washington’s lap.

So when aliens come to you and ask them to take them to your leader, you would have no choice but to direct them to the man in the Oval Office.

While it might be far-fetched to anticipate malevolent spaceships docking down on Earth, the world does face calamitous possibilities. And now, the world waits with bated breath to see how a Trump presidency will deal with these challenges.

Of course, liberals have already written off Trump as the worst thing to ever happen to the United States. That a Trump presidency will take the country backward, and that retrograde, bigoted attitudes will run freely is a foregone conclusion for a large section of America.

Feel free to hate the boor, but being a decent human being was never a prerequisite to being a leader

Trump’s exhortation to Make America Great Again is, to many, just half an inch away from Make America White Again.

In that respect, Trump is a counter-point to Obama in the way that Obama promised a complete break from eight dismal years of George W Bush. Obama had stepped in at just the right time for America to decide it needed its first non-white president.

His message of “hope” and “change” took over the world like a storm.

He was young, he was hip, he connected with all the things that defined the educated Millennial. He looked like he would wash away the old, wash away the white male capitalist patriarchy, and move towards an egalitarian future.

But progress is a tricky thing, and it’s never a straight line. Obama had his eight years, but as he gets ready to leave office, America is simultaneously more Obama’s America, and less Obama’s America.

A strong reaction from an angry right was inevitable. It is all too easy for liberals to chuckle at the ignorance and bigotry of Trump supporters. It is a lot harder to dig beneath the reasons for how the same America that voted in a black president twice, the same America that embraces waves of immigrants and foreign students every year, could vote for a man who wants to build a fence to keep out Mexicans.

But the pendulum swings. It always does.

If America wants to really progress, it cannot afford to ignore why it is that certain parts of the population are sick of this thing called political correctness, and why they gravitate towards a man who is not afraid to mouth off.

Trump didn’t just win the election, he won comprehensively. This might make you laugh. This might make you cry. This might make you horrified. But it should really make us think.

Politics was never about principles.

Getting to -- and holding on to -- that position of leadership involves tapping into the angers, frustrations, dreams, aspirations of flawed, irrational, sometimes broken human beings. The election was never about social progress. It was a nasty game from the beginning, which Trump won, Clinton lost.

So, when the aliens land, take them to Donald Trump. He and his camp pulled off something the pundits and analysts didn’t see coming.

Feel free to hate the boor, but being a decent human being was never a prerequisite to being a leader.

Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune. 

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