It’s a shame that fear should be running the town again as in days of old, like the Hollywood Blacklist you don’t remember and the Watts rioting you do – it spreads, like blood in a swimming pool, till it occupies all the volume of the day. – Bigfoot Bjornsen, Inherent Vice
The mood around USYD’s Manning Bar yesterday morning was optimistic, if slightly anxious. It was quickly becoming obvious that Hillary would have to work harder than we thought to win, and the gaggle of Trump supporters up back had noticed and were celebrating this. Australia gets very involved in the American election because it usually dictates which immoral war of aggression we’re going to be involved in for the next decade.
The Australian Trump supporter is a curious beast. It has an excess of flab and big arms and a carefully cultivated 12 o’clock shadow. It favours cheap suits and an overabundance of cologne, like this will somehow attract the women their politics don’t deter. At Manning, they came armed with a number of chants – ‘Lock her up!’ and ‘Drain the swamp!’ and things like that – and were very interested in the construction of a wall. One boy said he wanted it built out of the bodies of CNN journalists. I was only half-sure that he was joking. Others recommended that the wall be defended by the full might of the US military and said that illegal immigrants should be used as ‘target practice’.
The scary thing is that they were Australian.
Indeed, the great southern land has already gone down Trump’s rabbit hole. We have an aggressive anti-refugee policy that ensures people fleeing violence will be locked up on an island for years and eventually commit suicide out of desperation. Big business holds an inordinate amount of sway over the decision making process. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Western nation with a worse view of female leaders than Australia.
America’s problems are our own, writ large. The young men at Manning who chanted ‘Grab them by the pussy!’ will not put that rhetoric away now that the election is over. It’s more than likely that they’ll go into white-collar work or politics and continue to express those opinions on a regular basis and without fear of consequence. That’s because they’re popular opinions – at home, and away.
The world is experiencing a conservative revolution. You can see it in Brexit, in Australian refugee policy, in the election of a fear-mongering rapist who uses racist rhetoric as punctuation. It is a revolution that is predominantly being led by white men with very little understanding of what it’s like to be persecuted for the facts of their existence and believe themselves to have been treated unfairly by the unseen hand of globalisation and economics. It’s a revolution being led by the boys
at Manning Bar.
I read an article not too long ago that made the uncomfortable suggestion that, given the weight of history, feminism could very well be a bubble. I think the election of Donald Trump gives credence to that theory. Here is a man who openly called his opponent a ‘nasty woman’ mid-debate. Who was caught on camera bragging about the numerous sexual assaults he’d committed. This same fear could be applied to any minority group – immigrants, the LGBTQI+ community, different ethnic groups. It is unreasonable to believe, without evidence, that we will continue to progress along liberal lines. We may do the opposite.
At some point in the Manning Bar experience, the collective mood turned sour. Hillary was not winning. The Trump supporters began to emit this weird animal musk that suggested they were getting ready to fuck or fight and a set of psychedelically bad vibes asserted themselves over the proceedings. The room got very quiet. Clinton supporters were reduced to celebrating a lead of eighteen votes in some states. Trump supporters were jeering the failure of one of the most progressive presidential platforms in history. And it started to rain.