It was nearly midnight when we finally conceded to the fact that Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. My friends – from Michigan to Ohio to Southern California – wore the expression of defeated knights at the end of a grand battle. They watched as their country voted for a sexist, racist and xenophobist to represent them for the next four years. This comes as a strong blow, especially after the U.S. has witnessed eight years under an African-American president and could have elected its first female president.
I come from a country where elections are frequently rigged. The incumbent party's political goons take over polling centers, snatch cameras from journalists and we anticipate results we had accurately predicted without any bigdata analytics. The most recent U.S. election – in that vein – seems oddly familiar. No cameras needed to be snatched because the mainstream media willingly provided billions of hours of free advertising to Trump's campaign, feeding to the growing entertainment culture of the West. No amount of data was able to predict the outcome of the election, irrespective of how close and conservative their estimates were. No political goon ended up in a fist fight – the opposition won in a perfectly fair election.
Trump's administration paints a gloomy image on foreign policy. Although in his recent New York Times interview, Trump admitted to human connections in advancing climate change, his mission to dismantle the Paris agreement can cause ripples across the world. A US noncompliance in addition to increased industrialisation place vulnerable countries like Bangladesh in a sticky spot with growing dangers of sea level rise, high temperature and salinity intrusion. Although the Obama administration is widely criticised for its foreign policy, particularly secret drone attacks in Pakistan, a Trump control of Deparment of Defense will see a break in federal budget with increasing expenditure on navy and airforce to match Chinese and Russian fleets. A commitment to put the ISIS to extinction will mean haywire attacks on more civilian homes across the world with consequences worse than that set by Ronald Reagon or George W. Bush Jr.
In light of impending dangers, it is not uncommon to believe a Trump presidency will be a wakeup call for Americans, especially those who identify themselves as liberals. In days following November 8th, I found myself in rallies abhorring the President-elect's policies and beliefs. My U.S. counterparts came together in open-door meetings to speak boldly about protecting diversity and minority groups. CEOs of technology companies in Sillicon Valley wrote passionate letters to their employees, committing to conserving diversity and open-mindedness in the workplace, to denounce any hate speech propagated by the new administration. These initiatives should have happened irrespective – there is no denying it had to come down to a Trump presidency to push Americans to look inwards, and contemplate their own belief systems.
For the rest of the world, a Trump presidency or Brexit leave more important lessons. It is evident our liberal bubbles are cracking with their own rainbows of intolerance. Blind nationalism is on the rise and feels threatened by globalisation – demanding careful deliberation on part of policymakers, politicians and people. There is a frame-shift to the far right, and any denial of our own incompetencies, racial or ethnic prejudices, or shaky international relations can cost us a hefty sum. The problem is no longer that of a single government; there is a shared responsibility on the common people to look inwards and reposition locally and globally. If unhindered attacks on Hindus or terrorist lockdown of Holey Artisan aren't enough banters of our justice and social systems, the future we are painting for ourselves is grim. America's wakeup call is our alarm on continuous snooze – and an opportunity to tackle a problem before it becomes too murky to filter through. It calls for fair elections, rehashing our education systems, and protecting minority groups in our country. However, it starts with an attitude shift where we learn to look into the mirror more closely before we turn around to point a finger at the world.
The writer is a writer and founder of One Degree Initiative Foundation. She is currently a Master in Public Policy at University of California at Berkeley in the US, and researches on cyber security and behavioral economics.