Opinion Op Ed 12 Nov 2016 Shobhaa’s Take ...
Irreverent, provocative, opinionated... Shobhaa De has been challenging status quo for four decades... and is at her best when she punctures inflated egoes. Readers can send feedback to www.shobhaade.blogspot.com

Shobhaa’s Take: Will the new Prez embrace all?

Published Nov 12, 2016, 12:58 am IST
Updated Nov 12, 2016, 6:51 am IST
Donald Trump’s win says so much about men and power.
Donald Trump  (Photo: AP)
 Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

Welcome to the changed world order: From Pussy Grabber to President of the United States of America, Donald Trump sure has come a long way. His victory is a pretty accurate reflection of who we are, rather than who we pretend to be. Mr Trump is the Average Joe — same-same but different. Mr Trump is a tangerine coloured billionaire with a bizarre comb over. Yet, under it all, he remains depressingly “ornery”. While India was dealing with a well-timed dhamaka (note-crisis), Mr Trump was making an uncharacteristically sober acceptance speech, reading carefully from a teleprompter, and making nice. While a section of America went into collective and very public mourning (#notmypresident), European leaders chose their congratulatory words with undisguised caution, almost choking during the strained delivery. Only Angela Merkel said it like it is — and no wonder. She had been at the receiving end of Mr Trump’s taunts during the refugee crisis and wasn’t about to mince words. Back home, Bharatwasis were more concerned about paying for their dal chawal to spend time on an Amreekan President-elect. Eventually, nobody gives a damn — it’s only about self-interest.

And megalomaniac Mr Trump plugged into precisely that trait when he launched his ambitious “Me, me, me” campaign. Since all the experts got it wrong, and only a clever fish (yup! A fish-fish) called Chanakya in Chennai had it figured, the lofty world of analysts and experts is still wondering how such a despicable man won the hearts of his countrymen (and surprisingly, several women, too). Ask Nobel Laureate and fellow American Bob Dylan, and he will say, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind... the answer is blowin’ in the wind.’’ Academics will provide all kinds of bogus arguments in hindsight, but the simple truth is Mr Trump wisely ignored the power elite, the self-styled intellectuals, the high-brows, the wealthy and the snooty, the liberals and progressive thinkers. He proved they no longer counted. And as was astutely pointed out by an international columnist, the Davos party was finally declared over. All that schmoozing and networking with the Davos Darlings (the Clintons), came to nought in this seminal election. Mr Trump shrewdly ignored brains and went for the gut. He took his message to the angry majority — the white, uneducated, jobless, frustrated man, who pinned his personal failures on “others” — immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, terrorists... and women, of course. When Mr Trump promised to “Make America great again”, what he was pledging was to get rid of the old elite. The same people who refused him a place at the high table. “Out!” he bellowed.

 

Now comes the real test: Can he? Will he? Going by his conciliatory tone during the acceptance speech, he has vowed to embrace “all Americans”. Of course, in his mind, these “other people” may not qualify as true-blue Americans in the first place. Does he care? The world is watching. Does he care about the world? Who knows? He sure cares for himself — that’s obvious. After his White House visit, supporters were stumped by the Boy Scout version of the Raging Bull. Is the same man they voted for? There must be a “real” Donald Trump hiding somewhere. The man Melania Trump wakes up next to. The man who has fathered five children with three wives. Is he as big a monster when the cameras are off? Melania, a top model in her time, dated him for seven long years before tying the knot. Of course, his bank balance must have been the sexiest thing about him, but hey — Melania (the second First Lady of foreign origin in America), is no dumb blond. She is smart, confident, speaks five languages and is very much her own woman. Her first public appearance as the wife of the President-elect was restrained, sophisticated and calm. It must have been pre-decided, but the Trumps exchanged chaste kisses on the cheek — disappointingly, no lip-to-lip smooches. As historic photo-ops go, this one was seriously blah.

 

Mr Trump’s win says so much about men and power. He symbolises universal traits, which are as old as the hills — he shows scant respect for the less entitled, and he is an incorrigible chest thumper. No man in public life displays the “mine is bigger than yours” complex as blatantly as this loudmouth. We know about his sperm count... soon he may reveal his penile size, too. If people find his boasting and bad mouthing offensive, we must ask — which people? Not his supporters, who roared their approval each time he abused someone. Mr Trump scores on being a badass. Mr Trump’s basic instincts are base, vile and crude. But try chatting with a few guys at a bar in Ohio, for instance. They are all closet Trumps — misogynistic, arrogant and obnoxious. Mr Trump is their voice. He has legitimised a certain kind of ugh behaviour, which the more “civilised” world finds revolting. For that matter, try chatting with Mr Anonymous at any dhaba in Uttar Pradesh — you will find a desi version of Mr Trump. Hatred, contempt and aversion for women is what propelled Mr Trump to victory.

 

The very thought of a woman — particularly a tough and brilliant woman — occupying the White House and calling the shots, made a huge swath of Americans distinctly uncomfortable (“What is America coming to... a Black President, then a woman...? No way!”). So, the world’s stuck with a real life version of Donald Duck — albeit, a nasty duck, unlike the loveable cartoon character. In the land of Mickey Mouse, a man like Mr Trump has triumphed over logic, good sense and reason. It’s a victory for perversity. We shouldn’t be too shocked. In India, we have endured several Trumps without collapsing or crumbling. Our burgeoning middle-class is no different from the men and women who voted for Mr Trump. We share similar anxieties, fears and insecurities — we just have different names for them. And yes... the writing is on the wall, all you desi Davos-wallas. Hold the Dom. Times are likely to get increasingly “mushkil” on those slopes. The current notes ka jhamela is just the beginning.

 

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