Observing the US Presidential Election from Bali

November 10, 2016

My plan to avoid the Tuesday night election election drama was simple. As an American currently visiting Indonesia and anticipating the results coming in late that night, I planned to go on a long hike to Mount Agung in Bali, returning to my hotel and the world of wifi and data well after the polls had closed on the east coast. I was more than confident I would escape all the speculation about a possible Trump presidency, and watch as Clinton swept Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

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So happy because I didn’t know the election results

Obviously, that didn’t happen. I returned to a mostly red map, that continued to bloody up the US as the hours wore on.

I’m still in shock. Not angry. Not depressed. Simply amazed. This election has exposed to the US to the rest of the world in a very unflattering light.

What have we learned?

The United States is now a world joke. Trump supporters can frame it however they like, but when news of the election results came in, my Lithuanian and Indian friends, rather than commiserating with me over the dangers ahead, couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. I could say I was still proud to be an American under a Bush presidency; I had to defend myself more often that I would have liked abroad, but he was just a politician, albeit a misguided one.

I can no longer make that claim. Despite winning the popular vote, Hillary Clinton still lost half the country to a misogynist, racist, ignorant buffoon. If Trump had been elected as a fluke of the system – electoral college aside – then I might have joined in the joke, but he wasn’t. Half the country supported him. That means that half of ALL Americans are racist, bigoted, small-minded idiots.

What happens now?

To those who advocate waking up and seeing the next sunrise, “things won’t be that bad,” and just tolerating four years of this: No. Trump and his supporters don’t deserve your empathy or understanding. Life matters, but there is no value in a life that values evil over good, hate over love, oppression over freedom. People can change through experience, through education. Trump and his supporters have proved they are incapable of even that.

Social media across the country is dripping with pity messages, talks of “love doesn’t Trump hate” and “the sun will rise.” No… no it won’t. Despite President Obama’s reassurances, things are not going to be ok. Apathy won in this election more than any one person. Apathy of those leaning Democrat who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton. Apathy of those who leaned Republican who couldn’t bring themselves to vote against a conservative, despite his “personal issues.” Apathy got Trump elected, and only strong action will take him out.

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