An entire year of Trump | Make the world love again
On November 8., I woke up in Puerto Iguazu. A little town in the north-east corner of Argentina, no one knows, unless they have visited the “Cataratas”, the waterfalls that stretch along the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. I was about to fly to Buenos Aires, a town I didn’t much enjoy three years earlier, but that I was determined to love now.
The day started as good as any travel day could. I was surrounded by friends I had met barely 72 hours previously. We laughed, ate breakfast and chatted about our travel plans. I was in love with live and still high on having visited one of my major bucket list items. Waiting at the airport, I indulged in all the images of women voting for, what I hoped to be, the first female US President. Seeing all these women place “I voted”-stickers on the grave of legendary suffragette Susan B. Anthony brought tears to my eyes. As I was sitting in this tiny Argentinian airport with mumbled Spanish all around me, I couldn’t help but feel part of a momentous occasion. If there was any part of me that thought Clinton’s victory might yet be derailed, then I pushed that feeling to the very back of my mind, willing it into non-existence.
After flying down to BsAs, I wanted to stroll through town a little before watching Hillary Clinton being elected President of the United States. I didn’t expect a landslide victory, as I was acutely aware of how close this election might be. But my trust in humanity couldn’t envision Trump as the winner. So as I was walking through San Telmo, I kept stopping in every café with Wifi, trying to catch up on the latest developments. Buzzing inside because I couldn’t believe the history that was about to be made.
All evening, I sat in front of my iPad, a million tabs open, following each little development, reading tweets and anxiously awaiting the first results. I did get to escape from the anxiety of following the news for an hour or two, though. I went for some drinks with two guys. But instead of being all fun, the conversation did bring home the fact that there were a lot more people out there who thought that Hillary was just “unlikeable and thus unvoteable” than I had previously realized.
Later lying in bed in my dark dorm room, I watched each news result anxiously and almost physically sick at the thought of a Trump presidency. Each new projections that came out made it harder and harder for Clinton to win. Everything I saw, every projection I read, felt like a nightmare. A nightmare from which I so desperately wished to wake from. I was in touch with friends from around the globe and we were all united in this feeling of utter disbelieve and an inner monologue of: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
At around midnight Buenos Aires time, I had to stop watching the live feeds and projections because I wasn’t ready to face a world in which Donald Trumps was president. I turned everything off hoping against all odds that when I awoke, Hillary Clinton would be the first female president of the United States and that my nightmare didn’t become a reality.
The morning after
After tossing and turning and nightmarish visions, I turned my phone back on at around 5 am. I hoped and I prayed, while my phone dealt with all the incoming news, that the hopes of millions of women did, after all, come true. But there it was: Donald Trump was announced as President-elect. Hyperventilating, shocked and utterly fearful I lay in this dark dorm room not understanding how the people around me could sleep while the world outside felt doomed.
Throughout the entire day, I felt estranged from reality. A thought kept running through my mind: “This cannot be. This has got to be a nightmare.” Yet, even an entire year of the Trump presidency later, I am yet to awake from this nightmare. I distracted myself as best as I could throughout the day. A visit to La Boca, one of the less safe neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, brought back that anxious panicked feeling I associated with being in Buenos Aires two years earlier. Surely a feeling less to do with where I was, than with what had happened the previous night. A photography tour through Palermo Viejo did calm my anxious, ruminating thoughts but not for long.
When I returned to the hostel, I threw myself into all the shows and reflections of the election I had not been able to watch in the morning: Colbert, the Daily Show and, of course, Hillary Clinton’s concession speech which made me weep blubbery tears – hopeless, anxious and utterly uncertain of everything that this new President would bring.
An entire year of Trump
So now, an entire year of Trump later, and I can confidently say that everyone who told me that “it surely won’t be as bad as I think” was utterly and completely wrong. It is every bit as bad as I thought. Maybe even worse. His election win shifted something in American democracy. And it shifted the world’s perspective of the USA. For the first time, at least in my mind, I realized how deeply entrenched racism in America is. And much of my reading of the past 12 months has focused on understanding this racism.
So where do we go from here? The long-term effects of Trump’s election are still unclear but I hope with all my heart that this shock will propel us towards a better future. A future in which it is natural for a woman to lead a powerful country. But ultimately, I really don’t know. But I have tried to make sense of this bonkers first year of Trump’s presidency. And tomorrow, I will show you which books helped me along the way.