I'm ashamed of what’s happened because I didn’t think America was perfect, but I certainly thought it was better than this, writes Nick Bhasin.
It’s been two days but I still haven’t accepted it.
The United States of America - the country of my birth; the country that I love - elected Donald Trump to be the 45th President.
I watched from Sydney, where I’ve lived for the last nine years, as almost 60 million of my fellow Americans took a look at an orange, pussy-grabbing, xenophobic racist with a questionable career in real estate, education, reality shows and sexual assault and said, “That’s our guy!”
"What in Donald Trump are you seeing that makes you think he cares about working class people and their problems? His private jet with the gold sink? His big gold name on everything?"
They heard about some email “scandals” and whatever Benghazi was and decided that Hillary Clinton was so corrupt that they had no choice but to go with the tax-dodging, Muslim-banning, self-obsessed birther fascist.
How many times does someone have to be compared to Hitler before you think, “Hm, maybe let’s give this guy a pass.” He was endorsed by the KKK! No red flags there for you?
I’m even more confused and angered by the 42 per cent of American women who were so bound by ideology that they thought to themselves, “I absolutely HAVE to vote for the former host of 'The Apprentice' even if he wants to grab my pussy, assuming I’m good looking enough. (And I’m not.)”
If you’re having a really hard time and you’ve been unemployed for years and the system hasn’t worked for you, I understand why you might choose the candidate who stands for nothing, loves only himself and has admitted to being sexually attracted to his daughter. You may feel like you have nothing to lose and nothing matters.
Wait. I don’t understand. What in Donald Trump are you seeing that makes you think he cares about working class people and their problems? His private jet with the gold sink? His big gold name on everything? The way he clawed himself out of his father’s wealth with the help of his father’s wealth to get himself more wealth?
Is it simply enough for someone to say, “I’m going to do an unbelievable job”, not mention exactly how that’s going to happen, and you’re in? That’s all you needed to hear?
Australia is often criticised for being casually racist and sexist. It’s there. I’ve seen it and it’s not great. Well, there is nothing casual about the racism and sexism that America has just endorsed. It’s bold and aggressive and pointed. That’s the only way a bigot like this could have been elected - voted in either by racists and sexists or people that are okay with racism and sexism.
It certainly doesn’t surprise me that there’s racism in America. I’m the product of immigrants. My mother’s parents were from Puerto Rico and my father is from India. And as much as my parents taught me that I was Puerto Rican and Indian, but American first, I grew up feeling very out of place in the culture. I was born in New York City but I grew up mostly in New Jersey, where neighbours called my brother and I niggers and someone smashed our pumpkins on Halloween while screaming “Indira Gandhi is dead!”
What surprises (and saddens and angers and terrifies) me is just how many white Americans (I still have no idea what to make of the non-white Trump supporters) decided that people like me and my family are not welcome. They want to “take their country back” from us, as if we ever had it to begin with.
I’m not ashamed to be American. It doesn’t make sense to be ashamed or proud of something you have no control over. Plus we’ve just seen what nationalistic pride creates.
But I am ashamed of what’s happened there. I am embarrassed. Because I didn’t think America was perfect, but I certainly thought it was better than this. I thought people were better than this.
"I’m ashamed of the people who voted for Obama but didn’t support the candidate he endorsed because she wasn’t as inspiring. Maybe they’ll be inspired when Trump rolls back everything Obama has accomplished."
Of course, they aren’t. People are flawed and short-sighted and horrible. Even when faced with choosing one person to lead and represent them throughout the world, they will vote in large numbers against dignity and civility. They will vote for racism and misogyny. They will vote to watch the world burn as long as they think they’ll get a tax break.
I’m ashamed of the apathy (and, in some cases, intimidation) that kept 43 per cent of eligible voters from the polls. That’s almost half of the voting public. Almost half!
I’m ashamed of the people who voted for Obama but didn’t support the candidate he endorsed because she wasn’t as inspiring. Maybe they’ll be inspired when Trump rolls back everything Obama has accomplished.
I’m ashamed of the people who threw away their votes on Gary Johnson and Jill Stein because it was their right as an individual, country be damned.
As an American living in Sydney, I have often found myself in the position of defending the United States. For 30 years I was made to feel not like a “real American”, especially when I wasn’t in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco (still, for my money, some of the best places on the planet). But once I left the country, it was made clear just how American I was and so whether I liked it or not I represented the good – Obama, 'The Simpsons' – and the bad – George W Bush, 'The Big Bang Theory'. So I enthusiastically sought to show Aussies (and the English, who are relentless in their anti-Americanism) that not all of us are provincial and stupid.
I was an American abroad when I watched Barack Obama become President. I wept tears of joy (just for a moment - I was at work and I’m a professional) for the direction my country was going in. And despite all the crazy racist theories popping up from monsters like Trump – Obama wasn’t born in the US; he’s a secret Muslim; he hates white people and the country – I assured myself that they were the fringe. They didn’t represent America.
Now they do.
And in their quest to make America great again, they’ve turned it into a scary joke.