on trump and the us election by an american in americaI asked Rachel, who blogs at Challa and Haggis, and happens to be an American who lives in America, what her thoughts were on Trump winning the election next week. Here’s her response.

Because I spent my junior year of college abroad, attending the University of Bristol, I know what it’s like to “represent” an entire country’s way of thinking. Although Bristol is in no way a backwater, country town, and other Americans attended the university, I still found that those around me—friends, fellow students, professors, shop owners—were still very much interested in getting the opinion of an American on a variety of subjects. It’s both a difficult and heady position to be in, and I tried to tread carefully because I was under no delusions then, and even less delusions now, that my opinion in any way, shape, or form represents the bulk of Americans.

It can be a dangerous thing, indeed, to assume that other people think the way that you do.

Having said that, I hope I’ve dispatched with the idea that my opinion represents the whole of the U.S. Obviously, if it did, this presidential race would not be so close— not by a long shot. If my opinion was shared by all Americans, Trump would no longer even be a memory on the electoral stage. But, alas, he’s still here, and misogyny is still the norm and not the exception.

No doubt, it’s been a wild ride. As someone who has lived in other countries, I understand how much other societies still look to the U.S. for so much and, yes, even put the U.S. up on a pedestal as some sort of ideal. Perhaps Americans who are unaware of that are less bothered than I am by the fact that this pedestal has been kicked over. If not quite the laughingstock of the world at the moment, the U.S. is no doubt the cause of much head-scratching outside of its borders. If you’re wondering what the heck is going on over here, imagine how so many of us feel.

The lunatics are attempting to run the asylum, but it didn’t happen overnight.

So much has been steadily eroding over the last decade or two, including—unfortunately—civility and diplomacy. Social media and 24/7 “news” cycles have led us to have increasingly short attention spans and a knee-jerk tendency to believe everything we hear. These same news programs no longer even pretend to be impartial, so we gravitate toward those who say what we want to hear. Where is the education in that? Perhaps we, as a society, will soon be getting what we deserve. We are absolutely reaping what we sow.

How would a Trump presidency (I actually cringed as I wrote those two words together) affect the U.S., as well as the rest of the world? There are some days that I manage to convince myself that it wouldn’t be all that bad; that we’ve recovered from worse. It’s hard to know what to expect from a con man who has probably only said ten honest things in his entire life. Of course, his power is also affected by the status of Congress, and whether the Democrats or Republicans rule that nest.

In the near term, he has promised to appoint Supreme Court judges who uphold what basically amount to right-wing Christian values.

So much for impartiality, and the whole system of checks and balances that are supposed to exist in our political system. What this could mean immediately is that two major rulings would be overturned: Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges. The first gave women the right to make their own decisions about their pregnancy, without outside interference.

The second led to the Marriage Equality Act, which made same-sex marriages legal in every state, regardless of state law (or individual religious belief). These rollbacks will appease the alt-right and allow Trump to throw his vice-presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a much-desired bone. Pence is, in fact, the scarier of the two men on the Republican ticket—check out his actions while Indiana’s governor to see what I mean. At heart, both of these rulings were enacted to protect citizens’ privacy. If the Supreme Court overturns them, it sets a huge precedent for any case arguing individual freedoms. Including the gun lobby.

If any of this makes you uncomfortable, it should!

A democracy that strips its citizens of individual freedoms is no longer a democracy. If the U.S. has any small amount of influence left over other countries, there could be ripple effects. I have heard that this is a race between globalism and nationalism, and I tend to agree with that assessment. Trump’s supporters want the clock turned back to isolationalism and that could be terrible for trade, as we are nothing if not a consumer-based society. As much as I’d like us to remove ourselves from conflicts around the globe, our humanitarian efforts (and dollars) are very much needed, and even relied upon.

As for giving a lunatic the codes for the nuclear arsenal—I’m not as worried about that. Or his promise to make Mexico build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants. Blustering fools say things to get votes that: a) they don’t mean and/or b) they don’t have the power to do. No, in addition to the erosion of my personal protections, I worry the most about Trump’s effect on the next generation.

Any of us raising children, no matter where we live, should be concerned by what these last two years have shown us about the devolution of society as a whole: the lack of civil discourse; the propensity to hate; the wholesale inability to demonstrate even the smallest amount of empathy to anybody who looks, speaks, acts or thinks differently. This is not what we want our children to learn, and I’m working hard to ensure my kids never think this way. I hope you’re doing the same.

We can, both as a nation and a global society, survive a Trump presidency. It’s the legacy of hate that we must never give up fighting.

on trump and the us election by an american in america**Rachel L. MacAulay blogs at Challa and Haggis, she’s a freelancer copywriter, editor of Autism Awareness, assistant editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press, and a social media manager. If that’s not enough she also writes novels in her spare time! Thanks so much for this insightful article Rachel, you’ve certainly given me a lot of food for thought. 

i-will-not-apologise-for-being-a-strong-womanMy name is Reneé, and I’m a strong woman. Hope that doesn’t cause you offence. No? Oh good.

Let me start by saying that I’m UK based, which means I’m not hugely entitled to an opinion on Stateside politics apparently. The third presidential debate has stirred something up inside of me though, because one thing has become pretty damn obvious recently.

Huge amounts of people do not like strong women

I, like a lot of other strong women out there I imagine, am not strong out of choice, I’m strong through circumstance. I’m a survivor of so much sh**, that it must seem as though I’ve made up half my life. One of my lovely friends, who I met through antenatal class seven years ago, said this to me early on in our friendship.

“You’re like Phoebe from Friends!”

I Will Not Apologise for Being a Strong WomanWhat she meant of course was that every time I shared a snippet from my past it sounded incredulous, as it does to me when I dredge up certain memories. Especially the deep dark secrets, and I think to myself, did those things really happen to me?

Did I really leave home at fifteen, fend entirely for myself, get myself mentally stable, recover from rock bottom, then go on to not just live an average life, but live a pretty awesome one? You can read more about that in my book if you wish to do so. 

I sometimes wonder how on earth I managed to get myself from there to here. How did I pull off bagging myself a wonderful husband, and having three gorgeous kids? Do I really get paid to write? I mean wow, how many of us get to work in our dream job?

I didn’t get from there to here because I took the easy road, far from it. I’ve never taken the easy road, and nor do I intend to start doing so. I got this life because I’ve worked damn hard for it. Through being a strong woman. Through going against convention every step of the way, and sticking two fingers up to the haters in the process. Like other strong women, I don’t quit.

Hope I’m still not offending you? 

If chauvinistic pigs like Trump had his way, I’d have stayed in the gutter as a teenager. I would never have been exposed to the opportunities that created my lucky breaks. After being bullied and abused for much of my childhood, I would have been so beaten down by life that I would have known my place, and not had the audacity to venture from it.

You see, I’ve rolled with the punches since I was a little girl. I was exploited so many times, and in so many ways, mostly by older men, when I was younger, that I’ve blocked a lot of it out.

I estranged myself from my entire family in the name of self-preservation. I’ve been through business failure, bankruptcy, mental breakdown. When the going gets tough, I put on my fight face and ‘girl up’. I try and set a good example to my children, and always strive to find solutions to family challenges.

Above all else, I’m not afraid to look inwards, and recognise when I’m the cause of the problem. When this happens (as it did recently), I change the necessary, and put measures in place to stop small things escalating. I never ever bury my head and hope that things will magically improve all by themselves. I grew up around adults who did this, and I’ve got to tell you, it didn’t get them very far.

The trouble is, strong women are easy to dislike

We don’t dwell on our shortcomings, and share our successes. We try and remain positive in the face of adversity. We look so in control, and always appear to have the answers. These things can make others feel bad about themselves, but as Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said, no-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I don’t know much, but I do know that the world needs more strong women. Ones who will volunteer for the messy work when it needs to be done. Ones who’ll stand up to the bullies who try and put them down.

Us women need to be strong. For ourselves, for our families and for the sisterhood.

My name is Reneé, I’m a survivor of life and will not apologise for being a strong woman.

Whose with me?

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