Surreal and scary sums up Donald Trump and if he's elected on 8th November it will be the most shocking event of modern times. Whatever we may personally feel about Trump he remains a top box office draw. The stuff that comes out of his mouth is appalling and vile at times, Trump has made it ok to be sexist, racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic and the rest. But it's far from ok. Journalists in national papers express their fears if Trump were elected. The implausibility of it happening suggests that it could because these are the times we are living in - politically fluid and unpredictable. In the UK, Brexit was unthinkable and widely hailed as economic suicide, but that did not deter the Leavers. They'd had enough, they wanted to be heard and counted. Now here we are grappling with the consequences, with our falling pound and all the other dire economic predictions that could ensue. Similarly perhaps all this scaremongering will not deter people voting for Trump. Wide swathes of the US electorate want to see radical change and that requires an outsider with a vision - Trump is the man who can instigate change in his supporters' eyes.
Initially written off as a political buffoon, we can no longer dismiss him, although the way he points his finger during debating is very vexing. We remember his speeches and his views not because of his political astuteness, but for their rankness. Trump sticks in our heads for all the wrong reasons. Clinton doesn't have the same charisma, she's a seasoned politician, part of the establishment - nothing new. And in the eyes of many tarnished because of her past mistakes, case in point using a private email account for official communications rather than a government one.
In a stupor these last weeks, I have actually been trying not to think of the impending US elections. I thought George. W. Bush was dire but Trump, well he's in another category. Then there are people who would rather vote for him than Hillary Clinton. When it comes to Clinton is known devil better than unknown devil? Whatever her flaws and political errors, she has experience, she's intelligent, she's passionate about gender inequality, she's a woman - out of the two she is the better candidate - right?
If Trump is elected, we can only imagine what he would do. Banning entry of all Muslims, clamping down on immigrants, building his infamous wall between the border of the US and Mexico (although that seems improbable), and forging closer relations with Putin - another political canon ball. Race riots are predicted in those areas already segregated and fraught with tension. And with the Republicans in control of the Senate and Congress, many of his odious ideas might actually see the light of day. Imagine the bile that will come out of his mouth which the world will have to endure. Trump is a joke, but he's a dangerous one.
And even if he loses he might contest the results, he's already said the elections are rigged and there are those that believe him.
Trump has promised a lot of things, he taps into fear and the growing inequity in the US, but the deepening divide within communities racially and economically is not just a US problem. Europe is facing similar issues. London and Paris epitomise the heterogeneous mix of different cultures, but ghettos exist where communities stick to their own and we see cultural juxtapositions and parallel lives emerging. In other cities and states it is even worse. How do you tackle this cultural and racial divide? Can you? Where do you even start?
The issue of immigrants and Muslims is at the fore of Trump's campaign, immigration made the US what it is today, but under him we will see the doors closing and the US looking inwards? Will minorities be more vulnerable to racist attacks and discrimination under his premiership - most certainly?
Drawing on paper featured in Avenues, 2007, Arts Council
Even though Hilary Clinton annihilated him during the seminal debates he still has a chance? Never has a campaign been so polarising - both of the candidates reviled and adored roughly equally. I never thought Brexit would happen, but it did. If Trump is elected we could see an exodus leaving the US. The Nobel Prize winning Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, a scholar resident at New York University, said if Trump won he would tear up his green card and go.
Trump was tape-recorded boasting about what he later described as 'locker room' antics. Trump shrugged off the allegations of sexual assault claims and so did his supporters. Is this the sort of man people want as US President?
Then there are the communities that have been left to rot and sink into perpetual joblessness and poverty in West Virginia and Mississippi. Is Trump going to come in and wave a magic wand and make everything shiny and prosperous like in Maryland? Neighbourhoods cleaned up, the riff raff sent on their way, old industries resurrected and the US made great again? Similar arguments were touted during the Brexit campaign, all the money promised to the NHS, for example, if we opted out - well it wasn't true, if anything future prospects in the UK look worse.
This idea of somehow recreating the glory days of the past is facile. The past is just that. It's gone, over, present day USA and the UK are not one complexion. Both countries are fractured; both face significant economic and socio political challenges especially when it comes to issues of race and religion. There is no quick fix, Trump's rhetoric might appeal to the lowest common denominator, but his policies are hollow and will cement divisions, encourage the consolidation of Far-right politics, disrupt social cohesion and destabilise global hegemony. What happens on 8th November will impact on our global future - let's hope the US electorate think carefully before casting their vote.