By Thomas de Réals
Here’s a letter to you, America, that I hope accurately depicts the way French youth and a good part of the world perceived the choice you made on November 8th.
And the rest of the world watches aghast as America frantically scuttles its own ship and sinks while a majority of its passengers give us the finger from the deck.
I know I’m only allowed one serious swear word to keep this article PG-13, I’ll try and use it wisely. So here goes:
What the fuck was that America?
And so it’s done: November 9th, or 9/11 in France. On a cold Wednesday morning, the United States’ people have chosen their fate. They will no longer suffer at the hands of the establishment. In a time of political distress, they have chosen their saviour: he’s orange, he’s gilded, he’s boisterous: everything America wants to remind us it can be. The joke’s been done before, but for the first time we can say with utmost seriousness that Orange is most definitely the new Black.
A baffling choice
What have they seen in Donald Trump? Even his most fervent supporters have admitted that he wasn’t the best choice to ever reach the primaries. He has a dozen assault claims to his name, has blatantly lied in every single intervention he’s made, has behaved like a five-year-old lunatic on and off stage and has demonstrated the thinness of his skin in more occasions than anyone could count. He is not as rich as he claimed to be, he’s proved openly anti-democratic, has claimed everything was rigged against him at one time or another… So why him?
Because the American people feel disoriented in a world that is proving too complex and that they feel they have the power to make simple again. That may be the single greatest default of progress: more often than not, understanding its worth requires education. And when you’ve been taught that you are a member of the greatest nation on Earth since infancy, you may be inclined to think that progress and its bothersome rules need not apply to you.
So you rebel. You rebel against the smug Democrats and their sophisticated and smart President, and their candidate you viscerally do not trust. You rebel because the laws they weave feel like prison bars separating you from the golden shores of the American Dream. You rebel because complexity is frustrating and profoundly anti-american and you’ve had enough of people explaining shit to you.
And you vote for a reset. You vote for the right to be brash, uncultured, unconcerned with the rest of the world. You vote for the right not to care, for the right to your illusions, for the idea of a closed America that would reap all the benefits while keeping the bad things like socialism and brown people at bay. You vote for the concept of a brand new Trump social ladder, that most certainly will not be yours to climb but that you would sacrifice much to contemplate.
Today, half the American people have decided to remind the world of their existence, when they have spent the last eight years being mocked by overly-popular liberal media. They have reminded all of us that America is a land of simple things: a rich man in the Oval Office, an imbedded aversion to foreigners and an allergy to complex social schemes in the head, a woman in the kitchen and a pussy and a gun within the reach of the hand.
They, like some of the British people, have made it painfully obvious that they should not be required to play their part in the world. Progress has gone too far, so they’ve organized a trip to the 30’s, when we could still torture criminals, atomize enemies, use truckloads of coal, abandon trade partners on a whim and keep the women off the important stuff. Keep it simple.
Maybe we should thank America and the UK for telling us where they really stand. Maybe now we can finally move forward without the half-hearted consent of these two, be it within the European Union or in international climate change dealings. It is however sincerely disheartening to see the Messiah they have chosen.
Maybe we should thank the US for relinquishing its place at the top. Maybe their example will give us the shock we needed to behave like the grownups we are, as civilized countries. Maybe the room they leave will give other countries a chance to shine, be it Western European countries or, more excitingly, Brazil, India, South Africa or China. We may live to see the end of the American hegemony on the world and the rise of a new order in which they will obviously play an albeit diminished part.
Maybe, of all things, this can unite the populations around the world whose emotions this morning range from emotionally impaired to sickened and outraged. In this unprecedentedly connected planet, we stand strong with the very many United States citizens who stand to lose big in the following years. And obviously, I hope I’m being dramatic and that I can look at this piece with bemused irony in four years. But you are having everyone very concerned, America.
I hope you survive the orange flu you’ve contracted. And I hope you do not shove my own words down my throat after our own elections in 2017.
A sanctimonious Frenchman.