It was the rain that woke me up this morning, insistently battering against the windows. It was all I could think about. I couldn’t remember rain like this.
Then I saw my phone, bleeping the news alert from its place on the table adjacent to my bed. Through bleary eyes I could discern just one word: ‘Trump.’ It was enough. The world rushed in.
It’s one thing to see something happen from a distance. It’s quite another to experience it on the ground. When the word came through months ago on that warm summer’s day in London that we had voted for Brexit the feeling of dread and dejection was overpowering. How could we have done this? Who thought this the right vote to cast? The result must be wrong; we knew which way the wind would blow. But the polls were wrong and we were wrong and we woke up in a different world to the one we fell asleep in.
Yet through this fog came a burst of lights. Words of support and encouragement; a fusillade of love from across the Atlantic. American friends who had no obligation to express anything saw fit to shout their love. Now it feels right to return the favour. It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton — indeed the entire modern Democratic Party — and I do not see eye to eye on policy, to say the least. Nevertheless, now is not the time to retread old ground. Now is the time to look forward.
You did not deserve this fate. As ever, when the mighty battle, it is the people who suffer. Your system sleepwalked into this. Know that across the pond, we are with you in this. The system is broken for all but the privileged few, for whom it works very well indeed. Know your enemy. Poisoned seeds have long been sown, and look now what harvest they have brought. But we are with you. In the UK we are living under regressive, authoritarian rule, with a rapidly widening class divide and little hope on the horizon. But there is hope. We have it here in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn and a resurgent grassroots movement. And make no mistake: within our current joint political paradigm, grassroots is the only way that hope can turn to reality. You will need to build from the ground up.
And you need to start now.
It will need to be a movement of action and of love, and of real social transformation. Don’t let this election dishearten you. Make this the last dying gasp of a world on its way out. Listen to each other, reach out across divides. It’s up to you. Take what looks like a tragedy, grasp it with both hands, and transform it into opportunity.
More than a generation ago, out of the ashes of the devastation of war our forebears built a robust social security system with free health care, progressive taxation, and fluid social mobility. It wasn’t perfect, but from the precipice of oblivion we began a climb towards the light. Tolerance, empathy, and understating started to sprout shoots.
This will not put an end to that.
No matter what the forces of regression think, they cannot turn back the tide of history. We are the tide.
Look at it this way:
Your country has elected an old, wealthy, racist white man who upon taking office will be servile to money and beholden to entrenched lobbying groups. You’ve powered through that before, America. You can do it again. You’ve just gotta make sure the system changes this time, instead of the face at the top of it.
Let this be a catalyst. Organise, rally, build a real alternative. We’re long due for a change. Make it happen.
Don’t rest, don’t despair. Fight.
Remember Frederick Douglass:
‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.’