A few thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump

By Caitlin Kelly

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The phone rang this morning at 8:30, waking me, waking my husband who got home at 4:30 a.m. after editing photos all night for abcnews.com.

“Come home!” said the caller, a friend of more than three decades, a woman slightly older than we are, who lives in my hometown of Toronto.

The emails started soon after that, from friends in Ontario and British Columbia — and New Jersey and California and many other places asking me…

What just happened?

Misogyny won

I stayed up last night only until 12:20 before retreating to bed, as it was already pretty obvious by 10:00 p.m. that Hillary Clinton was going to lose. All day long, there were line-ups at the Rochester, NY grave of Susan B. Anthony, who fought for women’s right to vote, piling flowers at her gravestone and covering it with “I Voted” stickers.

A secret, private Facebook group of millions of men and women, Pantsuit Nation, had sprung up to talk to one another candidly, movingly, about why this mattered so much to all of us; Sec. Clinton even alluded to it in her concession speech.

I watched it live, and , finally, wept.

For every young girl and woman who had spent the day in dizzy, glorious euphoria at voting, finally!, for a woman, her loss was a bitter, bitter defeat.

Yes, of course, someone had to lose.

But watching someone as supremely qualified for the job as she to a man with no political experience?

The idea of a woman at the helm of state was clearly deeply repugnant to many voters, a source, no doubt, of some amusement to those in Britain, Canada, Argentina, Iceland, Germany and many other states and nations with elected female leaders.

Fear won

Fear of economic chaos and further job loss or stagnation. Fear of the “other” — the woman in hijab or the man with a heavy accent, the child who had to swim into a boat to be rescued in the Mediterranean or fleeing the bombs that killed the rest of her family.

Fear of the unknown, as if anyone sitting in the Oval Office can, magically, make it all better.

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The Presidency isn’t a game for amateurs

The President has access to nuclear codes.

The President can enact or veto legislation that affects millions.

The President is the face, literally and figuratively, of the United States; to have someone in the Oval Office soon who has assaulted women (and boasted about it), has lied to and cheated business contacts and who has never borne the tremendous responsibility of holding elected office?

This is the highest office in the land.

It is the greatest honor to be chosen to speak on behalf of all Americans; I’ve stood in the Oval Office, while Bill Clinton was in office as we knew someone who would allow Jose and I a few moments there.

It is, for many people, a sacred space.

And the person who sits behind that wooden desk? Their moral character matters, and deeply.

This man…

The media had no idea how strong Trump’s support is — and should have

I work as a journalist and have for decades, as does my husband as a news photographer and former photo editor for 31 years at The New York Times.

It is our job, and that of our bosses and colleagues and publishers, whether of digital, print or broadcast, to know what the hell is going on out there.

Not just what out friends say or what academics with tenure or at think tanks opine, or what so-certain pollsters tell us.

We would only have known some of this by leaving our safe, cozy, warm newsrooms and venturing into places that are physically, emotionally, intellectually and politically deeply uncomfortable for some of us.

Chris Arnade, who wrote for The Guardian, did some of this boots-on-the-ground reporting work, although he admitted he spoke primarily, (a serious oversight) to men.

A media landscape in chaos isn’t helping.

An industry increasingly filled with 22-year-olds with no experience beyond a few college classes — cheap, malleable, “digital natives” — isn’t capable of this.

You can’t “just move to Canada”

The website with information on immigration to Canada crashed last night because so many panicked Americans tried to use it.

Nope.

My country of origin isn’t just a place to flee to and nor should it be; those with the best shot will be younger than 45, have a job offer in hand and speak fluent English, (and ideally some French as well.)

Irritated even then, I wrote this Salon column back in March when Trump was only starting to look like a more serious threat. (I was born and raised in Canada, and lived there to the age of 30):

If the growing prospect of President Trump scares the shit out of you, Canada might be looking like a nice cozy bolthole right about now. But it’s not just a kinder, gentler U.S. with better hockey and beer.

Hey, it’s close, civilized, a quick flight from the Northeast. They speak English.

But it really is a foreign country.

A nation almost 100 years younger than the U.S., Confederation was in 1867, creating the first four provinces. For all its vaunted socially liberal policies, it’s also a country with its own history of submission and domination – English over French, the 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children forced for decades to attend brutal residential schools, the unresolved murders of 1,200 indigenous women, prompting the recent allocation of $100 million by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to investigate and address the issue.

While Canada recently welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees, don’t be too quick to assume there’s an equal welcome for thousands of panicked Americans eager to flee a political scene they find abhorrent.

31 thoughts on “A few thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump

  1. I’m really sorry he won, that misogyny won, that fear won, especially as an immigrant. But when you can’t vote, you leave it to the Americans, and this is what they chose.

    I hope they’re happy with their decision.

      1. The challenge of “unity” is knitting back together the shattered shards of America-as-a-nation, between people who wanted HRC and people who consider DJT, literally, as their “savior.”

        There is a huge huge chasm between people who believed in Hillary’s promise(s) and skills and people who are chanting Jew-S-A and sending death threats to journalists…wearing a T-shirt that says “Rope,Tree,Journalist — requires some assembly.”

        There is no possible path to “unity” for me, and many others, with racist, homophobic, xenophobic people.

      2. I can understand that. When I came here, I couldn’t understand why immigrants stayed to themselves. Now I understand why. Most of my friends are immigrants now as well – from Europe and the Caribbean.

      3. There’s a lot to unpack now…that so many people are racist/homophobic/sexist and proudly so (did you see and hear his rallies?) And the issues they are persuaded he will address successfully. No coal job is coming back, no matter how many times he said it would.

      4. Yes, I did see them. Also seeing a lot of disheartening stories from Facebook friends being verbally attacked by rednecks who feel empowered to behave as they have always wanted to. It’s really sad.

        I hope this is only things getting worse, before they get better

  2. I’m not happy about this at all. However, I’m hoping that either he’s going to be surprisingly good at the job or that he’ll do something to get ousted from office within a year or two. Fingers crossed.
    And I’m hoping that in four years, someone more qualified–maybe a woman, maybe not–will take the helm. That’s keeping me going right now.

    1. I also hope the Democrats get their shit together for the mid-terms in two years….if they can get better control of the House and Senate they can block him the way the Republicans messed up Obama for the past eight years.

  3. i was absolutely gobsmacked. over the past months, my daughters and my grandies have all helped to get the word out and support hrc. my granddaughter who is biracial and obviously female, was incredibly excited for this day. i talked to all of them about how they would be a part of this wonderful history. how women had not been allowed to be president ever before and they were very surprise. today, i was so sad for all of them.

    i see there are huge protests tonight across the country and i only wish that people had voted with the same passion. i wish that people would have really looked into the character of those they voted for, and to vote not because a person ‘wasn’t something’ but rather because of who they ‘are.’

    i am reminded of the brits who chose the ‘brexit’ option and then had buyer’s remorse when they googled what it actually meant the next day. the aussie family has reached out to my daughter and son-in-law asking them to come back –

    1. So sorry to read this — and not at all surprised by your activism. 🙂 I imagine many many expats/immigrants are getting similar invitations to return. It is tempting for the first time — and I say that having survived layoffs, 3 recessions and a divorce here.

  4. I was dismayed to see the results last night. I think that there couldn’t be a worse choice. I my humble opinion, he’s a narcissist who only wanted the presidency as a trophy. He is unequal to the work involved and moreover, won’t care about that. Will he use this office to enrich himself? I believe that he will, because that’s his nature.

    The fact that so many people voted for him speaks to very serious issues around disenfranchisement. Of course, Trump will in no way address these issues. I think that the US is in for a rough four years.

    Americans who make the choice to move to Canada (and who qualify through the points system) will be as welcome here as anyone else. To decide to permanently leave one’s home is difficult, and I feel very sad that many people feel forced into that. But human history is littered with human movement and displacement caused by greedy, dangerous, foolish (and for the most part) men.

    1. I agree with you.

      This man had his Twitter account removed (!) from him by his own staff because his impulse control and appetite for revenge are insatiable and those of an infant on a sugar high. It is going to be equally disturbing to see the corrupt bunch of old white cronies he is going to choose for his Cabinet.

      Yes, millions thought he could and would save them. What a joke.

  5. My heart goes out, it really does, to so many Americans who did not dream this could happen. But I really don’t think misogyny won, or at least it is more complex than that. Hillary represents something out of touch with the heartland, a political elite that Americans fear. Would she have been hated so deeply if she wasn’t a woman? Possibly not. But had she been a man? I still don’t think she would have won. Maybe next time, maybe MIchelle?

    1. I agree with you…this was, of course, multi-factorial, and clearly DJT hit chords in these voters that resonated.

      But the appalling screeds I have seen directed at women, and women journalism throughout his campaign (including anti-Semitic and death threats) shows that the hounds have been unleashed and they’re not going back into the cage anytime soon.

  6. The most interesting post-mortem will hopefully be conducted on “the media.” Not only was the extent of their bias brutally exposed by WIKI-LEAKS, but their political prognostications were profoundly inaccurate. I’m not sure which one of these is a more disqualifying dysfunction, but it’s clear that at some point, they themselves became victims of their own activist management of data and information; they drank their own “cool-aid.”

  7. Still processing my thoughts, and I’m trying to stay class about it but the honest to god first thought I had the morning after was, “Wow. America really hates women.” Do I mean everyone? Of course not. Do I mean explicitly? No.

    I mean that as a culture, women are seen as unworthy of being believed, supported, or followed. From rape survivors to wage equality to work to leadership we are not considered worth it. Our narratives are questioned before they are listened to much less believed.

    Just a couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with a creative connection of mine who asked me how Mr. Trump was doing so well against a candidate of her experience and I told him that, like unto racism, there are strands of misogyny woven deep into the texture of our culture and political system and whether addressed in outright statements or finely attuned dog whistle comments, it’s there.

    Our ambitions are threatening, our stories of victimization are suspect, those of us needing help are lazy or manipulative or moochers, our desires for control over our bodies are antagonistic, our expectations of work life balance are unreasonable, our emotions are unstable. We are not trusted.

    God, I’m angry, it’s infuriating.

    1. You know it. I know it. Women live it.

      I feel so ill. Just woke up after 9 hrs, listening to BBC and the world’s reactions…and spilled coffee all over everything.

      We are, here, in a daze of confusion, shock and very real fear.

      1. I can’t tell you how many people, when they hear my accent on the phone or in shops over the past two days have expressed shock or demanded some kind of response. I’m trying to write my way through it – you inspired another blog post from me, friend.

        It’s not helping the daze, but it’s helping me try to focus.

      2. Thanks! I am getting many calls and emails from shocked/worried Canadian friends. It is very difficult (in some ways) to explain why anyone could possibly choose a man with his morals and total lack of political experience. I doubt it could happen in any country beyond puppet dictatorships….that he was CHOSEN and elected is the stunner.

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  10. We visited California this summer and toured around; wonderful, beautiful state. The support for Trump was overwhelming in many areas, although I think California was Clinton in the end. We were surprised then, but I guess after our own Brexit, not really so surprised by the result. It felt like being kicked in the teeth when you’re already down, though, when it happened.

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