US Election 2016 - What does it all mean?

Donald Trump victory.jpg

From what I've seen in group chats and my news feed, most, even all, of my friends are simply confused. The idea that someone could have voted for Donald Trump, a man who perhaps is more scandalous than any other presidential candidate in history, is incomprehensible. This is a man who judges people based on their race, gender, and background as if it was the most normal, sensible, progressive thing in the world.

But he won.

Donald Trump will be the leader of the free world in ten weeks time.

So why did it happen? How could we have got to this point? The big question. Well, I think the posts asking that question are in fact the answer. I saw the same reaction with the EU referendum, mouths agape at the 'idiocy' of the rest of the country and everyone running around trying to understand how so many people could be so stupid.

I think this reaction shows that most of us, at least my Facebook friends who have posted their thoughts, are living in an echo chamber. When we've reached a point where we simply cannot understand the other side's point of view at the most fundamental level, we must realise that we've forgotten how to communicate. The UK and the US are so divided, not because of figures such as Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, but because of all of us who are failing to widen our world view and actually, simply, speak to the other side for once.

One of my friends went as far as to ask all possible supporters of Donald Trump to quietly block themselves. This is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. As with Brexit, the only way hate crime will decrease is not through simply preaching tolerance, but by leading by example. Demonstrate that you are willing to listen and no longer will great swathes of the population feel like the other side is full of patronising know-it-alls and go out and vote anti-establishment.

A misogynistic, racist, bigot deserves no reply, blocking them no matter their political views is not always a bad idea, but to suggest that all of those who voted for Trump could be described as such is exactly the reason why Trump won. Donald Trump won because he was the candidate that shouldn't. He won because he was the candidate that simply couldn't. Because he was not what the Americans were told to vote for. Every time a journalist or a politician came out against Trump, as with Brexit, they benefited his campaign.

This is not the apocalypse, the snow currently in Glasgow is not in fact ash falling from the heavens, the world will not end engulfed in nuclear fire because a man with a bad haircut and an orange face now sits in the Oval Office. But it will be tough. This is the part of the western world's history where we forget what it means to be human, we forget that we fail to communicate at our peril. Just as some forget that each of those refugees actually lives and breathes and is not just a parasite looking for a host, those of us who voted remain and wanted anything but Trump do the same when we equally dehumanise all of those voters.

The establishment lost this election just as much as Trump won it. If you want the world to change, if you want to make sure this never happens again, be the change and start bridging that gap. Don't block your friends, make more friends, with people you wouldn't normally come across. Get into debates, give yourself a voice, but be sure to listen to the other side above all. Facebook is not representative of the western world so get out there and find the hundreds of millions of people who disagree with you, they've got to be hiding somewhere. And always remember that the person you're replying to has as much a right to hold their opinions as you do.