Dear United States,
Hi, how are you? Been better? Sounds about right.
My question for you today is very simple: how?
How could you allow a man who openly admits to grabbing women by the pussy to run for President? How could you allow a man be seriously considered for such an important position when many of his own party members have turned against him? How can the land of the free allow a man who wants to build a wall around your great country tread so close to the Oval Office? How can so many of you support a candidate whose campaign followers were calling for a repeal of the 19th Amendment just so their candidate can win?
Respectfully, how could you let Donald Trump run for President?
I admit that I am not American. I am not a citizen of the United States, and I have no right to vote. Who am I to have such a vested interest? Who am I to judge? After all, Australia isn’t exactly a role-model global citizen either. Why should some random whiney gen-Y girl from down under care what happens in America? Or perhaps more accurately, why should you care about what some whiney gen-Y girl from down under thinks about America? And the answer is simple:
You are the leader of the free world.
I do not know who coined the idea. I do not know exactly when or why you first started branding yourselves as leader of the free world, and frankly I don’t think it matters at this point. It simply matters that you are the self-proclaimed leader of the free world. Whoever you elect as your leader will fundamentally impact the rest of us in the free world – and there are a lot of us. You aren’t the only ones counting down until November 8th.
Your presidential campaign splashes all over my news headlines. I open Facebook and my friends – both American and non-American – know exactly what is happening on your side of the world and Australia isn’t the only country watching. In fact, I can’t imagine a country that isn’t watching the showdown between Clinton and Trump unfold. Hell, they even broadcast the presidential debates live on TV over here. Did you know that? Did you know the entire world is watching?
We are watching as Donald Trump talks about women. Our boys are listening as he describes grabbing women by the pussy because ‘you can do anything’ when you’re a star. Our girls are learning that it’s all just ‘locker room talk’, and it’s normal for guys to do that to them. We are watching people celebrate a man who at the second Presidential debate was asked if he had assaulted women and answered by talking instead about the Middle East, because that’s what will truly ‘make America safe again.’
But stricter borders won’t protect people from sexual assault.
I know you’re scared. I get it. You’re scared because you have seen the horrible things happening around the world, and they seem to only be getting worse. You’re scared because terrorism isn’t a country, it’s an idea and you can’t recognise an idea when it walks past you on the street. You’re scared because the economy is bleeding and you’re drowning in debt and everybody needs to make a living. You’re scared because the world is scary right now. I’m scared too.
So when somebody stands up before you, wielding great power, money and influence, saying they can fix all your problems, I get it. You want to believe their financial success means you can have financial success. I get it. When they point to a group of people and say they’re the problem, you feel comforted. You feel like you can see the things you’re scared of. You can recognise it and finally keep yourself safe. I get it.
But it’s not that simple. It never is.
Fear is not a religion. It is not a race. It is not a gender. It is not every person with brown skin you see walking the streets. It is not hidden beneath every hijab. It is not concealed behind every accent. It is not written in code on the papers of every immigrant or refugee you see. It is complex and it disguises itself well – that is part of what makes it so terrifying. You often cannot see it until it announces itself, and by then it’s sometimes too late.
But you should not condemn hundreds and thousands out of fear. You should not brand a whole race of people as rapists and wall them out. You should not paint all refugees with the brush of mistrust and show them no compassion. You should not assume every Muslim means you harm and let racism exclude them. You should not be letting young boys believe that they can grab women without asking. You should not let your police frisk people on the street because of their skin colour. You should not let women feel like their vote is getting in the way of progress.
You are the home of the brave; please don’t let fear defeat you.