The world today is in a state of shock at the results of the US Presidential election. Just like when the UK voted to leave the European Union, the political analysts and the opinion polls completely failed to prepare the world for what was about to happen.
And this shouldn’t surprise us anymore because it is clear that despite all the efforts and money invested into opinion polling, there is one factor that is not taken into account: the human ability to lie when asked a question.
In the USA, in order to say you would vote for Trump you really had to be either a) a xenophobic, misogynist racist or b) a member of the working class worried about your job and tired of the establishment’s incessant wars.
But the mainstream media focused almost entirely on his racism and personal behaviour and much less about his economic and foreign policy. Therefore, when faced with someone asking you which way you intended to vote, and given that the only time and place when your opinion counts is when you put your cross on the ballot paper, then the people felt free to lie in order to preserve a politically-correct façade to the interviewer. Likewise, the politically incorrect answer to the question of whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU was “leave” and so in the opinion polls the people either preferred to express indecision or lie, leaving their real answer for the privacy of the polling station.
The fact is that we really wanted a woman to be president, just like we wanted a black man to be president beforehand… just not this woman (and not that black man either come to think of it).
As the UK found to their cost when they elected Margaret Thatcher, being a woman is no guarantee of the characteristics we associate with the motherly figures we so appreciated as children: strength, wisdom and kindness. (Thatcher may have had strength, but her wisdom is questionable and her kindness non-existent)
Women, just like men, have the capacity to kill, to launch wars, to impoverish communities and to be self-serving, and in the male-dominated world of neoliberal politics in our so-called democracies, strength, wisdom and kindness are not the qualities that get you to the top of your party.
So today, we wake up a bit shocked if we weren’t prepared for President Trump, but in reality the task for humanists has not changed.
Whereas Hillary would have given us an historic win for a woman: an inspiration for women (and men) across the world to achieve their goals, a friendly face for meeting other world leaders, and someone who would fight for the rights of women, LGBT people, ethnic minorities, etc.; she would also have brought us to an escalation in tensions with Russia, an even worse situation in Syria and Ukraine and possibly even a third world war, with all the risks to humanity from the use of nuclear weapons that that implies.
On the other hand instead we have Trump, an inspiration for racists, misogynists and people intolerant of any difference, a man who intends to build a wall with Mexico and to keep out the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims from the USA, but maybe his apparent friendliness towards Russia means we will avoid a nuclear war and the end of humanity.
Whatever the situation could have been under Clinton and what it will be under Trump, for those of us who want a Universal Human Nation our task has not changed. The next president of the United States will do nothing more than move the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic which is heading for the iceberg.
The task of humanists is to get hold of the wheel (or inspire someone else to get hold of the wheel) and change the direction of the boat. We need to steer it towards the Universal Human Nation where human life is the central value and money and power are at the service of humanity and not the other way as we experience today. Neither Hillary or Trump could ever even remotely conceive of helping us in this.