I've been pessimistic about the long-term prospects of the United States for over thirty years. This conviction informed my willingness to take an opportunity to emigrate to New Zealand, sight unseen, in 2000. In recent years, as I have grown more politically active in my second country, I have been trying to sound an alarm about the danger my homeland poses to the world, no matter who occupies its helm. Even more recently, I have been urging Kiwis with disposable income not to plan holidays to the US, asking them, "Would you visit Germany in 1933"? Unfortunately, although my cautionary note last year about the Presidential race did attain wide circulation, I fear my recent passionate travel advisories (some might call them fits of pique) have been met with silence or a nervous little she's-got-to-be-kidding laugh and blithely ignored.
In May on social media I found and shared a cartoon from the Nib which lists the warning signs of fascism. It was making the point that the US is ticking far too many boxes on the checklist. Speaking about Charlottesville, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley in his interview with Paddy Gower invoked a few of these warning signs as well: "And it met, in many cases, all of the markers of what fascism is — an appeal to a militant white nationalism, a celebration of an aggressive masculinity, a vilification of the Other, be they immigrants or people of colour or what have you." A medic on the ground in Charlottesville reported that the Nazi protesters were brandishing assault rifles as well as screaming at, beating, punching, and pepper-spraying their fellow citizens. There are reports that militia groups are creating caches of weapons. Civil War historians and military experts are actually laying odds as high as 95% that such a conflict will break out again.
Will Kiwis excuse my unseemly fits of pique now that a UN committee is issuing warnings about the US previously reserved for places such as Iraq and the Ivory Coast?
Well, never mind all that! Today I want to write about an even greater threat, the possibility that sexism will cost the most-qualified ever Presidential contender a seat in the big boy chair. Oh! Wait, that happened nine months ago.
Never mind the beaten, battered, and dead bodies of those opposing the growing hate and division right now in Trump's America, Hillary Clinton has been gestating her own hurt feelings and is about to birth another book, this one a memoir about the failed campaign that bequeathed to the whole world the inept and terrifying ministrations of the Orange One.
As a teaser, she appeared on MSNBC to share the trauma arising from her one-on-one St Louis debate with the "creep" in which he roamed freely and erratically over the stage, inexplicably uncontained by the moderators, making her feel (understandably) stalked and extremely discomfited. As feminists of her generation are wont to do, she bravely ignored the abhorrent behaviour, kept smiling, and kept making her points. Perhaps his wedding had been her training ground for executing this superhuman feat.
In April of 2016, she laughed away questions about her attendance at the 2005 affair with her characteristic cackle. So Hillary has known the Donald for more than a decade and he had to stalk her like prey on live television for her to conclude that the man is a creep? Granted, her creep-detector is faulty to a disturbing degree. She married and stayed married to a man whose immediate response when a star-struck 22-year-old intern confessed her crush was to invite her into his private office. (Presumably, as one of his intimate advisors, Hillary didn't disapprove of his decision to fire Jocelyn Elders, the first African American to ever serve as Surgeon General, after Elders opined that masturbation should be included as part of sex ed curricula, advice that ironically if followed might have spared the President, Monica Lewinsky, and the country a shameful, distracting, and unnecessary scandal.)
Elders joins a large group of women (aka "whiney" "trailer trash") the Clintons have dissed and/or discarded over the years. I would count Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner, the best orator in a generation, as part of that group. The Clinton campaign's punishment for her independent thinking was to deprive her, at the last minute, of the spotlight of making a nominating speech for Sanders at the Democratic convention, a prize she surely deserved as one of the party's few rising stars.
Enough history, though I do wonder how many Kiwis have even heard of Elders or Turner. Enough Hillary, whose inability to understand any part of the voters' "no" seems variously pathetic or pathological. What really sticks in my craw is the horde of a younger generation of women, having heard the drone of their queen bee, leaving their safe secret pro-Hillary Facebook groups, and going on the attack on social media on behalf of their unbefitting heroine, with their nauseating battle call: SEXISM!
This Tweet has attracted 10,000 likes in about 24 hours.
I understand that women like Hillary Clinton grew up in a different time and deserve some respect for forging their path where no or very few women had tread before, but you know what? That path has been a bit smoother for younger generations. The totality of world events are no longer unfurling on an outsized Mad Men set. And intersectionality has taught us that sexism is intertwined with other interconnected hurts and injustices. Privileged straight white women like Hillary might do well to just shut up occasionally and yield their hard-won floor to a woman of colour or even a trailer-trashy woman of the working class. When they don't and when they encourage younger women to see the world exclusively through their dated lens of sexism, they are not much better than the men who stood in the way of their younger selves.
It isn't innocuous coincidence that most Kiwis won't have heard of Nina Turner.
But as we all know, sexist dragons from Mad times do remain in our midst, in greater or lesser concentrations, always in danger of proliferating. Whinging about their outrageous behaviour months later counts for less than nothing when deliberately ignoring it as it transpires condones it. Who is worse than Donald Trump? Everyone--from politicians to media to everyday citizens to tourists--who put on a brave smile and carry on as if Trump's campaign (and now his Presidency) is any part of normal and acceptable.