To many of my readers, you might think that I have drifted off the planet for a few weeks. Let me assure you, you may be quite right.
I have been in the US for the better part of 2 weeks and have seen a cross-section of people going through the most challenging presidential election of their lifetime. It has sent people into places unworldly, both intellectually and emotionally; to places that are different to the world they have known and grown used to. For the Trumpites, it was a planet they wanted to escape and against the odds they have found their utopia. Whether this idealistic journey bears the fruits they have been promised, only time will tell. This half of the voters are literally over the moon (which suggests they might have gone too far). The other half are confused, anxious, lost, and angry.
As background, I decided 4 months ago to join an English company, Political Tours, on their “US Elections-2016 Tour.” I have travelled with them previously to Israel and the West Bank and dug deep into the mysteries of that challenging ongoing story. I thought 8 days in the bellwether state of Ohio and the capital, Washington DC, would prove to be an experience. Unbeknownst at the time of booking and before Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, it would be a typical battle between Democrats and Republicans. Little did we know that it would become a fierce journey defining how people see themselves in this new age. The world is changing- the world has changed.
Much has been written already and debates rage around the world as to what it all means. Of one thing we can be certain: the world as we knew it has taken a seismic shift. With Britain voting themselves out of Europe, together with upheavals in many parts of the continent, 2016 will be remembered for its changing of the status quo.
Without becoming mired in the politics of the US result, I have looked closely at men who come within the orbit of Life Again (under the banner of “mid-life”) and why some of them became so closely aligned with Trump. It is not just blue collar men or men not working, but it’s men across the board. Why did they see Trump as their Messiah? The answer to they’re hitherto unanswered cries? What did this crude and often discredited businessman offer them that Hillary Clinton, the Democrats in general, and all of us did not see? He offered them hope.
They did not vote for the man but rather they voted for his message. Indeed, there were those known as the Leaners; they would “lean” across to their best friend and whisper, “don’t tell anyone but I’m going to vote for Trump.” The power was the message. They were prepared to forgive Trump for every misadventure he was being accused of. They were sick and tired of carrying the burdens of their lives without reaping any rewards. They were still waiting and then along came a big, brash man with a strong voice and simple messages they could understand. Trump is, if nothing else, smart.
In essence these men, as well as their family and friends, are feeling fragile. Sometimes I talk about the invisibility of men, but equally I believe there is a fragility of men. They are stuck in dark places. In careers that no longer provide for them, in the rising costs of big government that don’t care for them and in housing they can no longer afford. Trapped. They have been silently screaming and this election gave them the opportunity to have their pleas heard. It might be blind faith but to those stuck in the mire it was better than more of the same.
What has driven this fragility in men? It is happening in Australia as much as it is in the US and other parts of the Western World? Fear drives it – the fear that we experience every day when we open the papers, watch the news or check our various social media sites. Terrorism at home and abroad, drugs and the evil of ice, youth gangs, the demise of the local motor industry, jobs being stolen by robots and communities being ravaged when mines are closed, climate change. You name it. Even our cricketers are adding to our woes. An American woman reminded me that men have never recovered their equilibrium since their emasculation through the feminist movement (don’t shoot the messenger if you vehemently disagree!)
Men are committing suicide five times as often as women of the same age during this mid-life period. Depression is on the rise and this modern society is racing ahead, been driven by change. Men cannot keep up – and neither can many women. It is time to take a new look at where we are going.
If Donald Trump has done nothing else in America, he has given the silent majority a voice. He has touched a nerve which has been unattended for far too long. Now the question is whether he is the leader to carry the torch further.
The risks are huge in the States as the African-American, Latino and other minorities vote Democrats. He is building a wall and he could be creating a racial divide equally as monumental, and far more dangerous. Is he the leader he says he is?
For it is leadership that is now needed to fight for people. Good political leadership is lacking in Australia at the moment; in politics, in industry, in society generally. Paul Keating has been talking about it recently. Government exists to serve the people, not vice versa, as self-serving politicians are fooled into thinking. We have no vision.
We have to find this vision quickly. Males are in crisis now. It has to change now. Remember it was not Trump the man who was voted in: it was his message. It’s not about bigger government, it’s about action. And we can all participate.