I’m American and devastated. Why did we vote for Trump? | Mariella Frostrup

4 months, 17 days ago

One woman, frightened by her countrys results of the election, insures no chink of sunlight. Remember the millions, like you, trying to construct the world a better place, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I am American; born, created and still living in New York City and I am, without exaggeration, devastated. I feel my country, in electing Donald Trump, has just been resulted down the road to extermination and mayhem. My disgrace, embarrassment, fear, rage, and sadness are unrelenting. I witnessed 9/11 from my school window as a adolescent, so I will never think of the US as a place of unending harmony or prosperity, but I cannot believe that so many people would allow this to happen.

I knocked on doorways, encouraged people to vote and donated money, but had I known the reality, I would have done much more. I know people in other countries are equally shocked, but do you have any wisdom to share? I would also like to tell those abroad that many of us here find this tragic and deep embarrassing( no one I know feels differently to me although I realise that is part of their own problems ).

Mariella replies My heart goes out to you. Many of us remain mortified by our nations recent political choices. We both live in countries that have experienced political shocks of a seismic nature in the past year and you are certainly not alone in your hopelessnes and embarrassment. That said, you cant take responsibility for the choices a nation makes any more than you can for a partner.

The best we can hope for is to try to understand why such selections were made and let that inform future dialogue. On the summer day we voted to leave the EU, plenty of us in the UK were as devastated as you are now, but period has encouraged a degree of sagacity. Pulling up the drawbridge to the UK has provided a salutary lesson to those on both sides, and neither seemed to be in step with voters. Believing youre the one in the right is no alternative to appreciating the concerns of others , no matter how alien their beliefs might feel.

Its a lesson as true in politics as it is in our personal lives. Being so convinced of the righteousness of your beliefs that you block your ears to opposing ideas is certainly not constructive. Never has the liberal left looked more out of step with the populist tune and I speak as a paid-up member of that fraternity. My belief and hope is that the referendum and election outcomes in both the UK and US respectively will animate us all out of our apathetic stupor. Weve been treading water for too long. Like partners in an unhappy marriage we needed things to hit rock bottom to force us out of our hapless ways.

The world as we know it has to change. It feels as though the divide between rich and poor hasnt been so pronounced since the Middle Ages. Along with our determination to claim whatever meagre bit of clay we consider our birthright, were becoming increasingly useless at the life skills essential to survival. My shameful Tv secret is that Im an Im a Celebrity viewer, a programme that are typically confirms my hypothesi that evolution is in retreat. Your future chairperson would have made a perfect contestant. I suspect you know how to light a fire, clean your socks and whip up a meal from basic ingredients, but that basic skill set is gradually attaining you part of a minority in the developed world.

Its a dangerous state of affairs. No wonder the proponents of dread are taking over. As a species we are scared witless and feel increasingly helpless about where we are heading. But instead of fuelling us to care better for our planet and its dwellers weve been wringing our hands and staring out the window.

Again, as in a relationship, its all too easy to identify where things are wrong and harder, but more constructive to identify where were getting it right. Our tally in attaining the world a better place is something we dont often add up. Instead our daily diet of failing is delivered through every media outlet, our excesses and brutalities writ big to capture the popular imagination. So its hard not to despair.

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