Good morning America, how are you?

By VectorOpenStock - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
By VectorOpenStock – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Those Americans who went to bed at a normal time may well be waking up around now to discover who is their new President-elect – the Trump.

I woke at 05:30 UK time,  about 00:30 East Coast time, to discover that my hopes for the USA had been dashed by Americans. I wasn’t pleased, but I’m getting used to waking up to bad electoral news; the 2015 general election, the EU referendum and now this. As a three-time loser maybe that’s why this one didn’t feel quite so crushing – maybe I’m just getting used to it.

We’ll have to see what happens, of course. Maybe it won’t be as bad as we fear. Maybe Donald Trump does believe in climate change after all. Maybe he will be remembered as the great environmental President. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I like the USA and I like, taken as a whole, Americans too.  I’ve travelled in the USA a fair bit, two long road trips in the last six years, and I look at the map of states coloured in blue and red and remember places I’ve been and breakfasts I’ve eaten.

I can’t help wondering how various waitresses from Honea Path, South Carolina to Salina, Utah (not once, but twice) and from Hardinsburgh, Kentucky (A Message from Martha pp 87-88) to Fordyce, Arkansas voted. These are all Republican states in the Trump/Clinton contest, and they are all in Republican counties too (I checked) so that probably gives us a clue.  But my mind also goes back to a breakfast in Ohio, near where the last (?) Passenger Pigeon in the wild was shot (A Message from Martha pp 100-103) and I’m pretty sure I know how some of the customers there will have voted.

Although I can’t connect with those people I met, I do feel connected to the USA even though it’s a long way away. Obviously I have memories of its people, its wildlife and its scenery from my visits, but even if I had never been there I still would have known that the American people’s decision is a big one and one that will almost certainly have an impact on me, those that I care about and the world that I care about.

Two of my friends have used the word ‘scary’ in talking about the Trump election.  That says a lot about our world.  We know enough about a far-away leader to be scared by his election. The world is a small enough, and interconnected enough, place to mean that a vote in Arkansas affects your life too.

27 years ago today, the Berlin Wall came down and I remember holding my baby daughter in my arms and thinking that the world was becoming a better place and that progress was progressing. This evening there will be fathers holding their daughters and contemplating the possibility of a wall going up on the USA-Mexico border sometime soon, and wondering whether progress has gone into reverse.

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34 Replies to “Good morning America, how are you?”

  1. Yet Hilary Clinton has supported and promoted policies that have lead to the deaths of many peoples daughters in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan etc.

    1. Given Trump time - given he's indicated that he's pro-nuclear proliferation (having suggested that Japan & South Korea ought to have the bomb) then any deaths resulting from Clinton's policies will seem a small side show to what Trump is capable of doing.. Besides, it's difficult to think of any policies in those benighted areas you mention that wouldn't have caused many deaths

  2. The establishment have blown it. I look forward to the Doubles of this world being shown the door in the not too distant future! But who do you think will fill the vacuum?

    1. Ok I'll venture to answer my own question. Nigel Farage!

      No I jest!!

      A coalition of lib, lab and a green aided by the SNP if necessary?

      Mark, were that to come about, not inconceivable given the Sunday Times editorial and the shocker from the US of A, would you run your petition again, this time with the RSPB lending a proper hand?

      1. Looks far more like global swing to the right and a rejection of centre-left liberalism so in that context your scenario is unlikely.

        1. Tom, I'm not sure it's a left/right thing. It's definitely anti-establishment! It's who fills the vacuum. Could come from either side in the uk?

          1. Tom, The Tory stronghold of Witney just shed 20k votes in the by-election, we have two more coming up. Also keep your eyes on the price of bacon!

      2. But will these people ever bury their Party nit-picking differences and join together to whup those Tories' asses? (Sorry, been watching too much America lately). If only they would join together they could easily beat them, and be the dream team that Nature really needs. Can anyone from the inside say whether this is ever going to be a realistic prospect? We SO need an anti-Tory coalition.

  3. OK the cartoon is wrong Mark, wrong colours on the wrong parties. If it was 1976 and the Americans were still the British 'colours' it would be accurate. However about 2000 the colours Red=Trump Blue=Hillary, you did notice the maps were daubed in red this morning.

  4. Do you remember the Obama discussion with David Attenborough? He, Obama appeared to be genuinely interested in the man and his messages. Indeed why would he seek out an interview if that were not the case? For the first time I felt at last the guy at the very top gets it.

    All that is now evaporated. Making America great again could well push us over several environmental tipping points. Your man Trump is apparently going to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing Obama's emissions controls programmes and rip up the clean energy policy. He thinks climate change is just weather and a Chinese inspired hoax so don't expect any adherence to hard won CC treaties.

    He's going to go for growth - to make America great again. How's he going to do that with a $19tn national debt and slashed tax take only he knows. But if he does pull it off, what will be the true cost? Human activity already behaves as if there are no limits to growth, stretching the biospheres ability to provide high grade resources and absorb low grade waste to way beyond breaking point as Jonathon Porritt points out in his book Capitalism As If The World Matters.

    It's all very depressing. The issue that dwarfs all others is the health of the one planet and biosphere that sustains us and yet our environmental and conservation lobbies continue to fail to get this to the top of the agenda.

    Where do we go from here? Anybody got any ideas?

    1. Alf, the:

      "America is a grim, gray shadow of itself after a catastrophe. A man (Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) wander through this post-apocalyptic world, trying to keep the dream of civilization alive. They journey toward the sea, surviving as best they can on what they can scavenge, and try to avoid roving gangs of savage humans who will turn them into slaves, or worse."


      My Amazon order is going in!

  5. I had a wonderfully refreshing walk on our local beach this afternoon which has helped clear my mind and give me some perspective on today's news.

    There have been lots of jokes on the internet today about wanting to 'reset' the planet, kinda like the way in which you would reset an obtuse computer. Well, resetting the planet is not our decision to make.

    Watching the stormy seas roll in reiterated to me that goading Mother Nature (ie by allowing runaway climate change or depleting her resources) is a stupid and daft thing to do. Because one day she, not us, will reset the planet and at that point we will realise how small and insignificant we humans really are.

    I take comfort in the fact that whilst we foolish humans may doom ourselves, life and nature will go on. In my mind, our choice is simple: do we rush headlong into this apocalyptic scenario, or do we attempt to find some balance and redress our ways before it's too late and Mother Nature makes the decision for us?

    "By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
    I love not Man the less, but Nature more."

    1. I agree - Earth will endure but Homo sapiens will not survive our current trajectory. Trump has kids - he acts as if he cares not about their fate - perhaps he genuinely has no idea about how the Earth works. I think of his appalling trashing of the Aberdeenshire SSSI sand dunes. Maybe now, though, his many advisers will be able to put him right. Just as our Defra experts are able to put Therese Coffey
      Thanks for the quote - made me look it up! Thank you, Lord Byron!

  6. Its the poor wolves, bears and other large carnivores that are going to be the big losers.
    Trumps eldest son loves killing large animals and any protection laws will be kicked out the door. Trump has has already said that that he will do away with emission standards so we are all going to suffer.

  7. Trump seems to have won for exactly the same reason that England voted for Brexit - the people left behind by technological change, increasingly marginalised by destruction of labour laws, zero hours contracts, rocketing house prices and the contrast between their lives and the people sucking ever more out of the system at the top of the heap. There is a bitter irony that in both cases they've ended up voting for exactly those people, and that as in the UK over Brexit it will as surely emerge in the US that Trump has no idea how to better his supporters lot, even if he wants to.

  8. My most optimistic reading of this is that if he fails, and fails bigly, then there will political opportunities of the kind never seen before in modern America, and those opportunities will be progressive.

    My least optimistic reading of this is that if he fails, and fails bigly, then there will political opportunities of the kind never seen before in modern America, and those opportunities will be Fascist (with a capital F - not hyperbole, simply descriptive).

    The same applies for Brexit. I wouldn't put a wager on either outcome.

  9. I would like to remind Roderick Leslie that 1,018,322 of us in Scotland voted to leave the E.U. And those that I know, like me, did not vote to leave the E.U. for the reasons that Roderick stated, namely "the people left behind by technological change, increasingly marginalised by destruction of labour laws, zero hours contracts, rocketing house prices and the contrast between their lives and the people sucking ever more out of the system at the top of the heap." We voted leave because we believe that the E.U. is undemocratic.

    It will be very interesting to see how the Germans and French vote in their respective elections in 2017.

    1. Absolutely agree. That was the driving motivation behind all the leave voters I have spoken to. If the EU is ruled by the Commission and you cannot elect or deselect those individuals and further neither can our elected representatives then that sounds allot like a dictatorship.

  10. Cheer up Everyone! - it could have been Billary!

    Lots of people will now be grateful to have dodged a bullet and will look forward to living out the natural lives they have coming to them. How many in the Dead Pool so far? 48? More? Robert Durst can't have killed them all.

  11. Try talking to a few more people, Robert & Tom. Nobody mentioned them there foreigners to you? Taking us jobs an that? Maybe it's just folks like me, that grew up somewhere pretty much akin to the Rust Belt. I hear the reasons that you give too (and they are fair ones), but it's a fraction (big or small, I dunno, I'm not doing a research project, just giving anecdotes, same as you) of the story I hear.

  12. Well Jim, I live in rural Scotland and "foreigners" aren't an issue, let alone seen - other than tourists visiting the many distilleries in my part of Speyside. Perhaps it is the friends I have - none of us are rascist, homophobic or whatever. What we have in common is a passion for long days in the mountains and a blether over our piece when it is time to stop and stand and stare. What we also have in common is a distain for politics in general and a unified contempt for what we believe is a totally undemocratic E.U.

    I'll make no comment on the US election other than if I was an American Donald Trump would not have been my choice - but that is Democracy ..or a version of it.

  13. Robert - I pretty much guessed what your circle would be. As I say it's part of the story, a real part of the story, but only part of it. As I'm not engaged in a sociological study I can only guess at how much of a part of the story it it. My guess is that it a small part.

  14. The Democrats only have themselves to blame for Trump - in the same way that the Labour Party and the Lib Dem's will probably only have themselves to blame for Conservative political hegemony for the next decade or so.

    Thomas Frank summed this problem up well in last weeks Guardian:

    As does 'Jonathan Pie' in this rather entertaining x-rated rant:


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