What Now?

The question on everyone’s minds.

The watershed US elections was nothing like I had imagined. I was confidently telling my parents there was no way Hillary was going to lose the elections. The NYT predicted that she would win with 95% probability. Plus, many of my college friends, professors, nobel prize winners, celebrities and even republican politicians have voiced their support for Hillary. Apparently, I was in a bubble. I was so disappointed and upset while watching the electoral votes swing the other way that I could no longer continue studying for my midterms.

Why it fell apart – inaccurate polls, demographically different voter turnout, ineffective campaign strategies, high inequality, disregarding concerns & status quo, family background. The left behinds. And so many more. I still can’t grasp why so many Western countries are heading towards protectionism, isolation, going against the long-advocated hand of free market and globalization. Does progress mean something different now? The rhetoric was so deeply-seated about how progress = free trade, from an economics perspective. But those theories were never static. It was first a zero-sum game and then a win-win situation. Regulation was imposed and then governments took steps back and the ’08 financial crisis happened and now, more governmental rules were imposed again. What we were educated to be right, might not be right 10 years on.

Emotionally, I was devastated. This should have never happened. That Americans were supposed to be accepting of diversity, educated to know the importance of foreign trades, how the US is now a service-based economy instead of a manufacturing economy, and how tax cuts just mean the money has to be taken from elsewhere – increasing taxes in the future, meaning more burden on the future generations, or cutting benefits in the future, such as social security, pensions, education, healthcare and all that. Do they not know it’s a vicious cycle? I was so emotionally attached and disappointed, not because I have a voting stake (though I do have a stake – because the rest of the world has to suffer the consequences, or gain from it, who knows) but because U.S. has personally failed at so many ideals that I once held it to. I no longer feel that I will be accepted everywhere, because of my status as a foreigner, as a Chinese Singaporean, or as a woman. I can’t take equality for granted, and I might have to fight for a place in the U.S.

I still don’t know what to make of this elections, like the rest of U.S., like the rest of the world. It won’t be an instant tragedy, because there are judicial systems in place to prevent the abuse of presidential power. But I can’t help feeling not too optimistic about the future prospects either. Perhaps the declining American power is going to allow for the rise of a new world power. History always finds a way of repeating itself, maybe not in one lifetime, but it finds its way back around.


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