The USA election of 2008 was a victory of HOPE, as we saw the first Black American elected as President. Eight years on it looked like we were having the first Female President but sadly her campaign was de-railed by her being seen as part of the establishment, seen to be crooked because of the Clinton Trust and investigations into her email. It is my view however that her ultimate downfall was because she was a woman against a man not afraid to feed the prejudices to the electorate.
The issue of being qualified for the post was undoubtedly proven, as was her cool temperament under huge provocation. What she could not rise above was the negative view of women been given positions of power. We of course see sexism in the workplace with women often failing to reach the top jobs, accessing pay commensurate with their male counterparts and been judged by the sexual conduct of their male partners. Gender equality is vital for Kaleidoscope and it is very important to me that we have a balanced executive team.
What is most tragic about this election was how humiliating people seemed to be the most effective approach. Siri Hustvedt who wrote ‘A Woman Looking at Men looking Women’ said of the election “People who grew up with a powerful sense of white, masculine privilege (as well as others who sympathise with that sort image of power), people for whom that sense of superiority was always precarious, and always needed protection, found in Trump a figure for their own fantasy of the restoration of an era gone.’
In essence, the decline of the white males power is blamed on the rise of Hispanics, blacks, and powerful Liberal Elite Women. The big issue for many was they said Clinton was not likeable, but they were not actually qualifying this. To commentators such as Katie Roiphe, in effect it was “a way of papering over and personalising a deep distrust of ambitious, powerful women that extends much further than uneducated, disenfranchised men. One has to accept women also shared some of those deep set views. “
America gives great store to the founding fathers, in the same way that the church reveres the male disciples. For many this adherence to the past makes it as difficult for people to support a female president, as it is for the Pope to ordain a female priest. The very strong shadow of history is one that causes so many problems, the Great War heroes, political and cultural leaders are primarily male. There is a sense built into all of us, in inherited rights and it would be foolish for us to dis-regard this.
In the UK we can foolishly say we have had two female Prime Ministers, so we are not prejudice in this way. This clearly is not the case, in the same way that the election of Obama did not mean less Black Americans faced prejudice and a disproportionate of black people ending up in their criminal justice system. It is good new role models have appeared potentially but the stain of Brexit and the Trump election clearly show how the pot of fear, be that on race grounds ,gender or being a minority group can be stirred and can create a wanting to return to some promised land people believed existed in history.
The sad reality is, as Islamic State shows, there is a way of kidding people there was a time when all was great. Take the Trump Slogan ‘Let’s make America Great Again’. When was it great for all its citizens? It started its history by killing the indigenous population, it had a civil war, was on the brink of nuclear war and it is a country that had little support for the poor and vulnerable in its community. It was great for some but not for the many, as white males enjoyed tooting guns, which later moved to cheque book flouncing. In the UK we still seem to have to say we are Great Britain, the rhetoric of greatness emerged in the Brexit debate. If only we could return to a time when people knew there role in society. So let’s look at our history; our empire raped and pillaged other countries, the poor were put in workhouses and in the Great War people were put in trenches to be massacred. When you ask people when was Britain Great, they can find no real time frame.
In many ways the failure to properly understand history, which is written primarily by white men to cement their role in the past is the problem. To truly move forward as a society we need history written by the poor, disenfranchised, we need our past understood through the eyes of women and through the pens of slaves.
This Blog was inspired by an article in the Guardian on Saturday 12th November 2016 titled ‘We are witnessing the politics of Humiliation’