In an irritatingly poetic way, 11/9 now carries almost as much weight as 9/11 in terms of shocking dates in US history. A reality TV star, a man who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women and vows to build a wall on the border of Mexico, a man so openly vile in his stereotyping, so bold in his obvious lies, so transparently incompetent in his projected policies, has become president of the most powerful country in the world. Voted in democratically by the people of a supposedly educated, cultured nation, there is no arguing with his appointment. We can only sit open-mouthed and wonder how such a character could have fooled so many apparently civilised human beings into trusting him with the greatest power on earth.
His path to victory is a meandering, baffling mess, but the context behind some of his votes is clear. As we saw with Brexit, people will vote in their numbers for change in any form. They have become sick of the status quo and think that something, anything, will be better than the current situation. They are desperate for a change in their circumstances, and when blatant lies are offered as bait, they are apparently too alluring to be fact-checked. Forget the fact that most of the Leave campaign's promises were fabrications (sorry NHS), forget the fact that Donald Trump has offered no concrete plans for how he is going to 'make America great again', change is change and anything must be better than now, right? One could almost take schadenfreude in watching these people discover how wrong they are, if it didn't affect the entire world in the process.
There are those who have long harboured engrained racism, who have quietly resented a black man in the White House for the past eight years, who feel aggrieved as people of colour (even hard-working contributors to society) form part of their population, people who join Trump in his desire to turn their country into a fortress and "make Mexico pay for that wall". There are the more bold, barefaced bigots such as former KKK leader David Duke, who told his radio audience that not voting for Trump is "treason to your heritage." When questioned about these comments, Trump made his usual vague side-steps, claiming, "I know nothing about white supremacists." Hardly a condemnation.
Yes, the background behind some votes for Donald Trump is tragically clear in so far as we know that fear breeds ignorance in the unenlightened, who are usually eye-wateringly stubborn and rarely bother to check the validity of declarations promising improvement.
But there were some votes that Hillary should have had locked down, and yet didn't. A huge question mark looms over the 53% of white women who bafflingly, maddeningly voted for Trump. What kind of woman living in a supposedly progressive, free-thinking country, where women have been fighting for her rights before she was even born (including ironically her right to vote!) would choose to support someone who has openly bragged "I just grab them by the pussy"? What civilised woman would stand behind a man who told an opposing lawyer in a court case "you're disgusting," when she requested a break to pump her breast milk?
Hillary has made comments that seemingly reject old-fashioned stereotypes of women, "I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas," she once remarked, unwittingly making enemies of a considerable number of American women who have chosen to do just that. In defence of her decision to stand by Bill after his indiscretions, she protested "I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette," again involuntarily invoking the ire of a great deal of All-American gals who see their husband as the leader and themselves as the follower.
The fact of the matter is that the great expanse of America is more like several countries in one, and what appeals to the informed feminists of big cities does not appeal to the traditional-thinking women in more conservative areas. This week we learned that a woman running for president does not automatically garner the female vote. She invokes fear and outrage in women who feel that their way of life is being paraded as an antiquated embarrassment. She conjures up an inferiority complex in the homemakers who worry they are being left behind and dismissed. She rouses ire in the Sarah Palin-loving conservatives who see Clinton's road to victory as a series of insults and attacks on their way of life.
It's the same reason feminism has almost become a dirty word for a lot of women. There is a fear in proclaiming oneself a feminist for being viewed as someone who only supports the power-hungry, ball-busting stereotype to which we are so often subjected. I often hear women protest they are not feminists before almost apologetically voicing full-on feminist ideas and views. Feminism does not mean the denigration of old-fashioned values or ideas. It means giving everyone, male and female, the right and opportunity to pursue whatever they want in life. It means equality for all, and disparagement for none.
What a shame that these women are able to brush aside Donald Trump's troubling history with women, dismissing his shocking comments as things said in the heat of the moment, not truly reflective of who he is; yet they feel unable to afford Hillary Clinton the same flexibility in viewing a throwaway comment as an off-the-cuff reaction to a deeply personal situation made public.
What a great pity these women couldn't see past the intimidatingly impressive career, the towering intelligence, and immense dedication of a woman ready to lead us into a historic victory for our gender. What an enormous shame they instead saw a pant-suit as a declaration of war on the skirt-wearing wives and mothers of America.
As the presidency of a man with a documented disregard and dislike for women unfolds, no one will pay more heavily for their own vote than these women. Meanwhile, when asked what kind of woman would vote for Trump, the rest of the educated, civilised world can only reply: a deeply threatened one.Suggest a correction