Dealing with Donald Trump will not be easy. However, as President he will have to work with everyone else, and we will have to work with him. Even this far away from the East Coast of the USA, I'd be lying if I wasn't deeply anxious and apprehensive about what will go on there during Trump's term.
His election has been greeted by the usual polite congratulations from most serving European politicians, but it is perhaps Angela Merkel's comments that are most revealing. She told the media today: “Germany and America are connected by values: democracy, freedom, respect for the law and for the dignity of human beings, independently of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views.
On the basis of these values, I am offering the future President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, close cooperation.” In short, Merkel has served the President-elect notice that she will not stand for his bigotry if he has any wish to work closely with her German government. This is the sort of position that makes me optimistic, let's hope that international pressure can play a role in mitigating some of the scarier things Donald Trump has threatened to do as President.
More generally, some things feel very clear this evening: A series of elections over the last few years have illustrated that young people are at this moment incapable of convincing our parents' generation of our worldview. I wrote after Brexit that:
“We are on the cusp of something awful — a solidifying of national (and international, see: Trump, :D) sentiment in a way that is wholly unpleasant and scary, but maybe it’s a ‘darkest before the dawn’ moment, and it’s up to us to come up with something to believe in again.”
Clearly, it's not dawn yet, and it is simplistic to suggest that age is the only barrier to progressive political success, but it is time we as engaged young people thoroughly engaged with the discontent that has led to Trump, Brexit, a very close call in Austria that might yet end badly, and numerous other victories for the Right. We keep waking up to unpleasant news, and this is something that we can't let continue.
All of this said, it would also be a mistake to characterise Hillary Clinton as anything other than an incredibly flawed candidate herself, and to some extent this is reassuring: a less disliked candidate might have beaten Trump and might have papered over the cracks in US society. At least this way we can recognise what is happening, and thus begin to consider how to challenge the politics of bigotry and hate.
This election in America is part of the trend towards authoritarianism and inward-looking nationalism that we have seen across our own continent, but also it's an example of some uniquely American problems (not least a deep-rooted disdain for the Clinton family). Over the next days and weeks there will be any number of post-mortems, this is not meant to be one, I just think we need to think very carefully about why, all over the world, we keep letting this happen.