The Future Is Orange
“If this man makes America great again, I will eat a sombrero”
I feel as though I’ve been kicked in the stomach by a feisty mule. I have a dry mouth and there’s cardboard behind my eyes. I’m tired and scratchy, and my shoulders creak. There’s a hollow feeling in my diaphragm.
I could blame the vomiting bug that projected a fine Lebanese meal back at me in the dead of night. Or the coughing bug that had my Basenji and I barking at each other remorselessly, even though her breed is defined as the bark-less dog of the Congo. Or the pigging migraine that picked a choice moment to complement my other ailments. I could blame these but I won’t.
I know why I feel as if the Grinch has stolen my erstwhile sunny nature. Because I’ve seen the future and it’s orange. I knew the pumpkin-headed Trump would win the election because frankly, if I were a writer, that’s what I’d write. It’s just so much more interesting to put a perma-tanned, racist, sexist, bigoted, vengeful, amoral meshuganah in the White House than same-old-same-old Billary and Hills, with nothing to recommend them save expertise, experience and a record of unrivalled public service.
So it came as no surprise when I woke up on Wednesday to the drum of driving rain, looking like Silas Marner on an off-day, and feeling lower than a limbo dancer’s last move, to find that the unthinkable had happened to the untenable. I cancelled most of my commitments, took to my bed with a can of flat Coke, refused all solid food, newspapers, radio and TV. I wanted no more comment. What was there to say? The beast is out of the bottle.
Trump In. Put-In, Corb-In, Marine le Pin-head advancing at speed. I lay in my fevered bed wondering why, if Donald was so sure that the Democrats and the Clinton camp had rigged the elections, as he repeatedly claimed, he wasn’t disputing his own victory? How the pollsters had misguidedly aided and abetted him, because until the FBI email scam, Hillary was so far ahead that Democrats didn’t feel the need to turn out. And as elections go, the turn-out was horribly low.
And they voted for him. The demagogue who prowled around podiums, strutting and sniffing like a man whose brain is running on the other kind of coke, who cheerfully admitted his own tax-avoidance to the America he plans to make great again, who openly blamed Obama’s government for allowing him to flout the law, who said, in other words, “I am a felon! Elect me because I am corrupt already! I will protect you from people like me!”
And once the public had bought into that, he could let rip entirely. He could label his opponent “Crooked Hillary”, “a nasty woman”; he could suggest she might get blown away with one of the guns she wants to control and incite his supporters to “lock her up!”. He could describe the 12 women who accuse him of molesting them as “money-grabbing fantasists”, and Mexicans as drug-toting rapists. He could call for a ban on Muslims entering the US and imply that he, The Donald, would track down every illegal immigrant and personally deport them. He could say anything he liked.
Internationally, he seems to have no policy apart from cosying up to Putin, defeating so-called Islamic State and proving that climate change is a myth invented by China. If the axis of the earth shifts, I expect he’ll claim to be able to fly around its circumference and whack it back into place. While judging women solely on the basis of their looks, his pronouncements are delivered through trout-pouting lips beneath Worzel Gummidge hair whilst a tiny hand goes up and down with its pinky raised like a Star Trek aviator.
And still, he proved to be the more electable candidate. Because the extreme right wing of the Republican party and disillusioned blue-collar voters are living vicariously through the antics of a reality TV star. It’s easy to forget that for the last 15 years Americans have known Trump as the host of The Apprentice, back-lit in a golden glow as he dispenses straight-talking business sense, measured mentorship and the wisdom of Solomon: “You’re fired!”
No matter, then, that so many of his own business ventures have ended in litigation or bankruptcy, or that he’s about to be sued in three states because Trump University is allegedly an utter con. No matter that the Democrats have steered the US through the worst recession since the 1920s and provided a healthcare package for workers.
Wages are stuck, industry is dead — but, hey, don’t blame technology for job losses, blame politicians and find a man to lead the country who isn’t one. He’s still a television star and that’s what counts. He’s paving the way for President Kardashian.
Perhaps his supporters were alienated by the sheer dignity and grace of the Obamas. Perhaps they felt patronised by the outgoing president’s erudition. So instead they’ve elected a billionaire boor with a Dynasty-style dynasty who look like extras from The Midwich Cuckoos. Not even a self-made billionaire, but established by his father with a start-up fund of $40 million. If this man makes America great again, I will eat a sombrero.
At the end of the week I dragged myself out of my Trump-slump to appear on Have I Got News for You. In one of the out-takes (the half-hour show is edited down from an hour and a half of footage) Charlie Brooker asked ironically: “I don’t suppose any of you read the Buchan Observer this week?”
I almost fell over myself to press my buzzer. Yes! The Buchan Observer covers the part of Scotland where Trump has built his golf course, and its headline gloriously read: “Aberdeen Businessman wins US Election.”