As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a US citizen – I was born there and lived there until I was 22 years old – but have spent my entire adult life in the UK. Fifteen years of adulthood count for more than 22 years of childhood, if you ask me. My more recent years are the ones with a completed education and an interest in the news and current affairs.
I was a different person before I lived in the UK. I was a kid. I liked playing video games and hanging out with boys. I didn’t watch the news: BORING! I didn’t even know that The Republic of Ireland was, like, it’s own country. I thought it was part of England, for reals. And I did actually go to an exceptionally good school.
Moving to the UK changed my outlook forever. I moved here for the first time just days after 9/11 happened. The next time I went back to the States, it was a place I didn’t recognise. Everyone was terrified of terrorism and foreigners. I’m not sure if it was them or me who changed. It was probably both of us.
So in the run up to the US Election, whenever I met someone here in the UK in a pub, or struck up a chat with my taxi driver, I would get the world’s most annoying question: “Do you think Trump will actually win?” Well, your guess was as good as mine, mate.
I get annoyed that my accent calls me out as American and makes people think I should be answering for what happens in a country I left 15 years ago. I expect these are the same sort of people who tell Polish people to “go home” or ask Muslims about their bomb-making skills.
I have friends or relatives who will despair if they read this, but I just didn’t get the Trump thing. Does anyone outside of the USA get it? Maybe the taxi driver I had the other day who thought Britain should replicate Trump’s wall-building plan. I pointed out that this would make it difficult for us to enjoy fish and chips at the very British seaside.
People voted for Trump for the same reasons they’d vote for any Republican. Because they want to keep their guns or ban abortion, or have lower taxes. They also voted for Trump because they are unhappy with the status quo. The last 8 years have not made them feel wealthier or safer, so they are choosing something so vastly different that it must have the potential to change their lives.
So will a Trump presidency be as bad as some thought it would be? Maybe not. The whole point of the American system of checks and balances means that his power will be limited. He will be controlled by the system just as much as any president and this will hopefully stop him from setting up home with Putin or something like that.
And I have to hand it to the guy, his victory speech followed all the rules. It was encouraging to hear him say what needed to be said:
Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together, to all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me.
My son was eating his breakfast while I was watching the speech and started talking, but I asked him to be quiet because I was watching something important.
“Why is it important, mummy?”
“Because this man is holds the future in his hands.”
My 4yo put on his solemn face and watched intently.
So I hope you will bind us together and not tear us apart, President Trump. This world is in sore need of bandages, not walls. Not just for America’s children but for everyone’s children across the world.