Trump’s Presidency One Week On: A Real-Life Dystopia

Sophie Dickinson 15 November 2016
Image credit: Gage Skidmore

I’m sick of reading about Trump already. His tangerine face and spitting lips will litter comment pieces for the next four years, and already I can’t bear it.

At least until he is inaugurated, groaning at yet another analysis piece is a privilege for us in Britain. We can afford to ignore political scientists and journalists safe in the knowledge that, for the time being at least, his influence on us is secondary, and that we didn’t vote for him. We are absolved of responsibility. In fact, the condemnation of nationalistic and divisive politics by commentators is now itself based in an ironic relief that this is not our country.

Of course, we are in shock. Especially in the Cambridge bubble, it seems unbelievable that anyone holds the views Trump espoused- never mind enough to elect him president. Wednesday morning furthered the 2016 feeling; a numbness, a feeling of disassociation prevented articulation, only incredulity. I felt politically concussed. The result was not just upsetting, it felt catastrophic, utterly isolating. The Facebook feed of responses that morning ranged from grief to denial. Remarkably, there was a huge amount of superstition- people declared they ‘knew it in their gut’, even I made some loose claims the day ‘was cursed’. We clearly couldn’t rationalise what had happened. Therefore this disenfranchisement from analysis, the inward sigh at yet another pundit pointing at a very red map, is totally understandable. We need to allow ourselves time.

And yet. As the news sunk in, the increasing response was one of begrudging optimism. Pundits wondered if reclining in the leather chair of the Oval Office would relax the muscles of post-truth hysteria. Maybe the rusting wheels of bureaucracy would halt the more ridiculous election promises. It’s certainly reassuring to hope the transference of actual power might mould Trump into a more mature politician. But that in itself is terrifying.

The Trump presidency might not be the nuclear apocalypse that my sleep-deprived brain started hallucinating about at 6am on Wednesday morning. The reality seems likely to be much more sinister: this won’t play out like an 80s sci-fi film, but it might become a Black Mirror-style descent into a darker political world. I’m not worried about nuclear fallout; the slow (and mandated) reversal of progressive legislation seems much worse.

My English degree prepared me for this, at least. The horror of a dystopia isn’t getting to your last tin of Heinz in a makeshift bunker. It’s the feeling that the world is slightly off-kilter, that states of mind that were once unacceptable (‘grab them by the pussy’) are now part of the norm. Put simply: we can’t let this happen. We can’t let misogyny, homophobia or racism become an acceptable opinion to hold; it cannot be met with respect or even acknowledgement that these prejudices are somehow ‘true’.

So we might be sick of Trump. But I feel more sick thinking about the state of the world if we let our fatigue win. His presidency must be met with resistance, and it must begin now.