There has been a great deal of dread and uneasiness in the LGBT community in the days following the US election. Trump and the Republican Party have gained control of all three branches of the USA government for the first time since 2001. Even the majority of State legislatures are now controlled by Republicans. Together, it’s an even more disturbing situation than sixteen years ago.
George W Bush was generally seen as a puppet of big business, but who managed to resist the worst of right-wing policy. Many in his cabinet were crooks, but they weren’t radicals. Mainly, it was the administration that caused the 2008 recession and that reacted to 9/11 by creating an new era of public surveillance. That’s bad, but not as bad as Trump.
The fear now is that Trump has unleashed a new wave of bigotry, religious fundamentalism, homophobia and racism. But also that his policies, like Bush, will create another financial meltdown.
What Do We Have To Lose?
Many fear the loss of important LGBT rights that were won under the Obama administration, everything from same-sex marriage to serving openly in the military. If the economy is bad, it will create a situation that combines a fear for personal financial security with a fear that someone else is causing it to happen. It’s called scapegoating, and Trump and the Republicans will allow this to happen rather than take the blame themselves.
It’s not just Americans who are worried. The USA has an strong influence on global affairs, because of it’s huge economy, and the reach of it’s military, intelligence and media. The anger and hostility set free by Trump has already begun to spill over into other countries, with new incidents of hate happening even here in Canada.
There are movements taking hold around the world which are clear indications that people aren’t happy with the current system. They want change – any change. The risk is that they will simply follow whoever is loudest and seems most confident in their vision. That’s what happened with Trump – people wanted change, even if they didn’t fully understand what this change would be, and Trump represented change.
Brexit was one of these desperate expressions of a desire for change. The UK economy was stagnant, people weren’t getting ahead financially, and their future seemed uncertain. So, they were willing to believe that drastic change was needed to make things better. The movement needed a scapegoat, and they found two: immigrants and the European Union. The rest you know.
Trump seems erratic and unpredictable. He’s already softening his position on a number of issues, making us wonder what he really intends to do. At the same time, he seems ready to appoint some very conservative individuals to key positions in his cabinet. It’s a dangerous and unstable combination which could have some very negative outcomes.
Moderate citizens are looking for a refuge from what many fear will be an oppressive, divisive and hurtful administration. In Canada, requests for information on immigrating here jumped within minutes of the election results. People are frightened of what might happen next, especially those from vulnerable communities. They’re looking for a way to escape, if they can.
There’s Still Time
The democratic process includes many safeguards, and the new government can only make changes at a certain speed. And none of this can happen until after inauguration day on January 20th. That’s still two months away, an eternity in politics. By then, depending on who Trump appoints and what kind of statements are made by various elected representatives, we should have a pretty good idea of what the new government intends.
But I don’t want everyone to now accept that they can do nothing.
This series will examine what the LGBT community and its institutions can do to prepare. It will also look at the many small things that individuals, like yourself, can achieve both at home and on the larger stage. Sometimes we’ll look at history, or economics, or even what’s happening at the local pub. But each installment will provide something concrete, a way for you to participate that is easy to achieve.
Since these ideas are basic and grassroots, we’re calling this column LGBT 101.