I can hardly bear to type it, but Donald Trump has won the American election and today been named the 45th President of the United States.
In other words, the world’s biggest bully just became the most powerful man in the world.
The stock market is reeling in the wake of the news. Already, $34million has been wiped from the Australian stockmarket (a total of US$2.5trillion worldwide). Experts predict that the worst is still to come, as Trump’s presidency will likely usher in a period of extraordinary global financial instability.
But that’s not what really concerns me. As we huddled around the television in our office today and watched the shocking events unfolding in America, it wasn’t my superannuation or my finances I was worrying about.
All I could think about was my children; my daughter most specifically.
I grew up in the era of President Reagan and President Bush Sr. While both men had their flaws, as leaders they were respectable, even-tempered, rational, ethical men who could be trusted to make morally sound decisions and govern with wisdom and fairness. As a child, I would see their face on the television and recognise them as men who stood for justice, fairness, goodness, kindness and truth. I saw them as men who were standing in my corner. Men who would defend me. Men who would stand up for me.
As of today, my children will grow up learning about a very different kind of President.
Their President will be a man who shamelessly uses his Twitter account to spew hatred and vitriol in the direction of anyone who displeases him. A man who brags about sexual assault, and freely talks of “grabbing women by the pussy”. A man who openly refers to women as “pigs”, “slobs”, “dogs” and “bimbos”, and rates them according to their beauty on a scale from 1 to 10. A man who will go to court next month to answer to charges of child rape.
When my daughter turns on the television, she will see a world leader who sees her as nothing more than “a piece of ass”.
I despair about the message that this sends to our daughters. I’m horrified to think of the message that it sends to our sons.
It’s a dark day for all of us when the most powerful nation in the world put its faith in a mysoginistic, sexist, racist, homophobic bully, and raises up a narcissistic, sociopathic madman to the highest office in the land as the new standard for us all to aspire to.
The Office of the President deserves our respect, but Donald Trump does not. In many ways, even the Office of the President itself has been disrespected by someone as deplorable as Donald Trump being elevated into it.
In order to be respected you have to give respect, and you have to be respectable. You can move Trump into the White House, you can sit him in the oval office, you can fly him around in Air Force One and introduce him as Mr President, but none of that counteracts his disgusting behaviour in the past, his despicable attitude towards women, immigrants, Muslims and homosexuals, or his total disregard for anyone other than himself.
As the world changes before out eyes and we enter the era of Trump’s America, it falls to us to set a higher standard than the one this new President sets. To be bigger than the President. To be better than the President. To raise the bar for our discourse higher than he sets it.
Donald Trump cannot be our benchmark.
Tonight we can despair, we can lament the unfathomable and mourn the events of the day, but tomorrow we must stand firm in our resolve to restore decency, to maintain liberty and to preserve the rights of those who Donald Trump would seek to marginalise.
We must become the standard that we hold this President accountable to. We must become the example that we ask our children to aspire to. When we can no longer look to our leader, we simply have to look to ourselves and ensure that in everything we do we hold him accountable for his behaviour, his language, his attitudes and his actions.
We can stop the rot from setting in by holding ourselves to a higher standard than he does.
For my daughter’s sake…..for all our daughter’s sakes…..for all our children’s sakes…
We have to be better than the President.