As we now absorb the fact that Donald Trump has won the election to become the 45th President of the United States, what should we take from this news? Well, I'm an author and I'm interested in world affairs, not to mention freedom and democracy, so I can't help myself but comment. I've been at home all day watching the process unfold in the U.S. Yes, I should have been writing, but it was rather distracting and compelling. And as an Australian, living under the comfort of the security guarantee provided by the U.S. since 1945, where America is going has to be of prime interest to me and my fellow Aussies.
There is so much going on in my head right now - I'll try and limit it to a few salient points:
1. Democracy, and the right to freely and genuinely vote, are very precious assets (not overly popular when you look at the world as a whole). The U.S.A. has always been the beacon for these values. Today, the American people exercised their democratic right to vote. Their wishes through their votes must be respected. Absolutely.
2. I've never met Mr Trump, so I can't really comment objectively on him as a person. Some of the things he has said, and some of the views he has espoused, really don't sit well with me. I am hoping that the worst of these were campaign bluster, spewed out expediently in order to win votes (as awful as that is in what it says about some voters), and that in reality as President he behaves differently. I hope...
3. I also hope that he can, as he espoused in his victory speech, unify the American people. I would love him to make America "great again", as long as that "great" is inclusive of ALL Americans, and it doesn't cause conflict elsewhere, and it has the value of freedom as the centrepiece. This will depend on whether or not he was serious in all the objectionable things he said. If it turns out that he was, then he hardly has a vision to treat all Americans with dignity and respect, and freedom will certainly suffer.
4. Australia and many other countries have enjoyed the largesse of American military protection for decades. This is likely to change, and we, as well as many others, may have to be prepared to pay substantially more towards our defence.
5. But for those still going "WTF?" Actually, we should not be at all surprised by today's result. What we are seeing is the manifestation of popular disquiet that has been brewing for years. In summary, and I stress this is my personal view, the political classes and our political establishments in our Western democracies have become so arrogant, so corrupt, so complacent, and so greedy for power, that very significant chunks of the population have been left voiceless and politically impotent. And now those disenfranchised masses are speaking up. We saw it today in the U.S., we saw in in the U.K. in the Brexit vote, we saw it in the resurgence of One Nation here in Australia, we are seeing reactionary political movements in various European countries, and we are going to be seeing it in other places as well in the near future. And, we are not short of arrogant and complacent politicians in Australia, I assure you.
6. The very fact that the political classes are shocked at Mr Trump's victory is overwhelming evidence in itself of their arrogance and disconnection from the people and their communities. As the rich get richer, on the backs of the poor who are getting poorer, sooner or later something has to break. History is littered with examples.
7. Who knows how a Trump Presidency will work out. But this is for sure; what we have seen is a major democratic country voting against the political establishment, against the complacency and corruption of the accepted political establishment, and for a change, hopefully for the better. I really do hope they achieve this. Again, I hope...
8. But democracy??? We cannot take it for granted - it is a fragile and precious gem. Our elected political leaders MUST learn to respect this, just as they must learn to respect that WE run the country, not them. And that they are in their comfortable, well-paid, and perk-laden offices to SERVE us. I am quite convinced that the majority of them have diligently learnt to forget what that word actually means.
9. What do I want from my elected representatives? I want ethics, honesty, humility, and competence. What I want to eradicate are self-interest, party politics, spin, and all the bullshit. Is it really too much to ask???
10. Did I mention I hope?
Cheers to a free Australia! And my very best wishes to our American cousins!