A Trump supporter leant me his coat once. I was cold and unprepared, and am grateful. In my almost monochrome Facebook bubble of despondency his elation, increased by the successful bet he laid on the outcome, is a contrast.
I did not sleep well so was awake around 4.30 to hear the Florida result, and as I type the Republicans have taken the Senate, the House and the Electoral College decisively even though not all results were declared. So they will take the Supreme Court, perhaps more partisanly than before. This is worse than being awake to hear Nigel Farage’s first snarl of triumph in June.
Leadership matters. An organisation takes its culture from its leaders: do they inspire creativity, trust, and joyful working together, or do they have security search warehouse workers in case they have stolen goods during their shift? Hearing Mr Trump’s rhetoric for four years will embolden those who speak and write coarsely in imitation of it; and, worse, his demonisation of out-groups will prevent many from growing beyond that false view of the world, when they believe some enemy is the cause of their privation so cannot address their real difficulties. In Britain, I am one of those demonised already, as Mrs May sneers at “Liberal metropolitan elites” who voted against Brexit. I am comfortable enough on my income, but doubt many calling me “elite” would be.
And people’s desire for a leader as saviour will be tested to destruction. Already it has: President Obama did not close Guantanamo, his drones are still killing, and we still need the Black Lives Matter campaign, in England as well as the US. There will be no growth in purchasing power for Mr Trump’s rural and rust-belt supporters from his policies, no reduction in violence against them, no real hope.
The ozone hole is healing, but our dependence on chloro-fluoro-carbons was far less intense than that on hydrocarbons, for fuel warming our planet and for plastics in particles from microscopic to huge, non-biodegradable, polluting the web of interdependent life. The Anthropocene threatens the biosphere, including us, and English-speaking political leaders have concerns, such as economic growth, that they deem more important than mitigating it. Mr Trump’s world view is one of Winners and Losers, a zero-sum game where he may use nuclear weapons.
And- we are human, capable of love and self-sacrifice as well as blind obedience and cruelty, finding joy in compassion and togetherness, our mirror-neurons forcing most of us into empathy. We are made in the image of God, and so are loving, creative, powerful and beautiful. Without a leader as saviour we are thrown on our own resources, to build communities of trust and co-operation in the face of exploitation and oppression. Truthful, compassionate people can show the frightened a better way, for we are alive, and living beings all strive towards health and wholeness, and we are a social species, fulfilled when brought together. A man I did not know well leant me a coat, because we were in a social group together.