This column contains adult language and is not recommended for the faint of heart.
Count me among the resistance.
The astonishing election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States should have any right-thinking person worried. A racist, sexist, bullying, xenophobic buffoon has managed to convince just enough people to vote for him in just the right places so that the electoral college can be leveraged to trump the results (pun very much intended) of the popular vote.
For the second time in recent history a Democrat has won the majority vote but lost the election. Those wondering just what is meant by “democracy” should be forgiven this moment of profound stupefaction.
Satire provides no relief, it being now indistinguishable from reality. The wall that Trump has promised to build may now not be the mighty edifice promised but may include “fencing” – a line that would be grimly hilarious were it not what Trump actually said.
And now, to add insult to injury, the normalising begins. He was democratically elected, pundits will write. The American people have spoken. The system works. By all means be disappointed that your choice may not have won, but rejoice at the glorious machinery of democracy.
Sadly, none of these things are true.
And I absolutely, steadfastly refuse to indulge in the shameful practice of excusing or attempting to explain away the poisonous rhetoric and utter bombast that have brought us to this horrible place. It is not boyish locker-room talk. It is not telling it like it is. It is not sticking it to the Washington elites and manipulative media.
It’s time to call it what it really is: the foulest bullshit we have had to put up with in living memory.
I was supposed to call my daughter the day after the election and share the joy that a woman had at last been elected president. Instead, I have to commiserate with her and try to explain why we live in a world where bullying and threats and tantrums and grabbing pussies can apparently be a winning strategy.
Bugger America: I need someone who can make parenting great again. It’s hard to look children in the eye these days.
I use the term “bullshit,” I should point out, because I am a huge fan of Harry G. Frankfurt’s 2005 book On Bullshit, required reading for anyone hoping to understand just about anything. Not for nothing did it spend twenty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Frankfurt’s great insight is that bullshit differs from lying because a liar knows the truth and seeks to prevent someone from discovering it. But a bullshitter simply doesn’t care what’s true or not and speaks merely to impress. Veracity is not a concern.
Drive around the South West and you will see signs urging us to Choose Respect. How quaint that seems now. How perfectly old-fashioned. Imagine… respect.
The danger for Australia is that we will allow ourselves to become infected with the same poisonous political discourse that has wrecked America. We are not the most intellectually robust people and many of us lack the cognitive antibodies that protect against this sort of disease. But we must be strong: bullshit, lovely to listen to, is the enemy.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Leonard Cohen decides to die. Like an old Zen master, his timing was impeccable.
“There is a crack in everything,” he sang, “That’s how the light gets in.” But there is precious little light left this week, and here in the darkness, huddling with our loved ones, it’s all too easy for different words to ring.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded / Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed / Everybody knows that the war is over / Everybody knows the good guys lost / Everybody knows the fight was fixed / The poor stay poor, the rich get rich / That's how it goes / Everybody knows.
– Jeremy Hedley
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.