Donald Trump has compared Mexicans to criminals. He was accused of sexually assaulting women, and he has been caught on tape making lewd comments about them.
He’s also the president-elect of America, a country that champions diversity, equality and democracy.
Democracy implies that if a candidate has been granted authority by the voters, it doesn’t matter how offensive they’ve been or what they’re like as a person, existing law can’t be reinterpreted to prevent them taking office. It implies that despite protests against Trump, petitions calling for the electoral college to back Hillary Clinton will ultimately be dismissed. It implies that a higher political body, regardless of its legitimacy and governing authority, cannot override the people’s mandate, even if the winner seems to be inept. Not when it was the result of a fair and democratic election.
This year’s American election has taught us that by dismissing fringe party supporters as “radicals” or “deplorables”, as Clinton has reportedly called Trump backers (which is also how Hong Kong Nativism supporters are viewed), we risk cementing their devotion to these campaigns. Trump aides accused the presidential debate moderators and the mainstream media of being biased towards Clinton. By playing the victim, Trump attracted and kept a loyal voter base who were all rooting for the underdog. In Hong Kong, revoking the Legco memberships of eleven pan-democrats through a judicial review would be like handing them a victim card to play. We have already seen a silent rally staged by the city’s legal sector. If our democracy is further compromised, then even larger demonstrations may occur.
Since the election, the media has gone into overdrive as the Trump phenomenon is analysed from all angles, with his success being put down to a growing feeling of antiglobalization and an eroding middle-class to anti-immigration sentiment and discontent towards the ruling class. Put simply, America has been plagued by an economy that hasn’t grown, and a widening rich-poor gap. White working-class Americans – which make up the majority of Trump voters – have, over the past few years, felt like they’ve been left out in the cold by the ruling party, and have felt threatened by the increase of immigration into the country. This turmoil has been coined as the “white identity crisis” – when white people feel like their opportunities and associated privileges are under threat.
Is Hong Kong not also going through the same thing? The younger generation complain about a decrease in social mobility, and there is a growing anti-establishment sentiment. As the next generation, we feel lost – we see no way to afford property, and we see no way out of poverty. All the while, we hear about the alleged deals made between officials and rich tycoons – like Eddie Chu’s dealings with a public housing project in Wang Chau. It’s no surprise then, that we see an emergence of “angry” politics, the move away from civil discourse to violent opposition which has been exemplified best, perhaps, by the riot in Mong Kok during the Lunar New Year earlier this year.
The conflicts that gave rise to Trump’s victory in the US are the same ones that are rumbling our city too. The only difference lies in how they’re being handled. While our government attempts to get rid of their dissenters, Uncle Sam gave the people the right to vote one into power – even if he does happen to be a politically incorrect, mean-spirited and xenophobic misogynist.