Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced each other in their first public debate vying for the position of ruler or the Seven Kingdoms where one of them will eventually govern from King’s Landing aka the White House. Seriously, if there was ever a better metaphor for Game of Thrones, it was the mess that unfolded before us on Monday night. There was Clinton – blond, cold and calculating as Khaleesi Daeneryys Targaryen herself, and Trump who couldn’t decide whether to channel Joffery Baratheon or Jeff Portnoy from ‘Tropic Thunder’. I mean… both characters are white dudes with blondish hair and erratics behavior, both with names that begin with a letter“J”, so whatevs and close enough as far as Trump was concerned.
I ended up watching the debate 18 hours after it aired because I value my sleep far more than I do investing my time to two wealthy white people spout platitudes and deny their racist proclivities (one more convincingly than the other), and by this time my oldest child had gotten home from school. She flopped onto my bed and gave me a quick hug.
“The presidential debates.”
“Oooo! Mind if I watch with you?”
“Nope. Slide on under the covers.”
And that she did. By this time, Lester Holt had welcomed the audience to the forum, informed us that Clinton had won the coin toss and assured us that both candidates had agreed to the two minute time limit allotted to answer the questions put before them. The entire world already knew that Trump had zero intentions of sticking to these rules. The man doesn’t even possess enough integrity to pay his taxes, so sticking to a two-minute monologue was a pretty big ask. I knew this, every adult reading this blog knew this, but for children watching a debate of this style for the very first time – and having the cognitive maturity to understand what was going on – watching Donald Trump flagrantly disregard these rules was shocking.
My daughter is 11 ½ and her reactions were priceless.
“Why does he keep interrupting her when she’s talking?” Nadjah asked, clearly perplexed. My explanation was not swift enough. “Oh my GOSH! Let the woman talk!”
I chuckled to myself, and then I grew pensive. This was a good learning experience. The exasperation that she felt at this moment is something she would eventually learn to cope with. As she leaves our nest and eventually enters the work place, she too will be interrupted by men, be told that her years of schooling and experience is “bad”, and held to a moral standard that some douchebag in khakis and Sperry’s has never lived up to a day in his professional or personal life.
“Mommy. Why is he sniffing life that?”
Because he’s probably on drugs, baby. 89.99% of all wealthy white men do some form of recreational drug or another.
I didn’t say this, of course. I don’t want to spoil it for her when this reality smacks her in the face when she eventually enters the political realm and begins to walk in her aspirations. And for selfish reasons, I want to hear the shock register in her voice when she calls home at 29 and informs me that virtually every dudebro in her office is on one form of an upper or another.
“Oh my GOSH. Mommy! Did you see the way he just talked to the moderator? Did you see how he just snapped on him?!?”
Yes, baby. I did. That’s called Jim Crow…when white men like Trump would call Holt ‘boy’ and berate them for looking them in the eye. That’s how white men spoke to Black men routinely up until 1982.
I didn’t say that though. I said, “Yes, Nadjah. I saw that. He sure is rude.”
“Wait…didn’t George Bush start the Iraq war? Why is he blaming Obama for that?”
“Because he’s crazy, sweetheart.”
More time passes and the train wreck is only getting more gory. Nadjah’s face is twisted and contorted with pain every time Trump claims to have a good relationship with the “Blacks… I mean African Americans”. I can’t help but laugh scornfully.
“Oh my goodness. Mommy! Did he really say all of those things about women?”
“Girl. He’s been saying horrible things about women his whole life!”
“And THAT’S why he can’t keep a wife,” she concluded, lips twisted as they dripped the bitterness of this truth.
Neither one of us is a Hillary fan, but my daughter and I have grown to respect her in the previous weeks. I could never bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that she is the only CLEAR choice for the job. Trump simply isn’t qualified to serve in the position of President of the United States of America. He’s divisive, bigoted, sexist, a cheat and once this IRS audit is concluded, may possibly be unmasked as a criminal. And I think that is why so many Ghanaian men like him.
Just as I am amused and pleased by kid reactions to the debate (It means we are finally raising a generation of civic minded youth. Too bad these two candidates form the slimy stew we’ve asked them to pick through and determine a victor from), I am equally appalled by the reactions by Ghana’s male (aspiring) elite. A large majority of them – at least online – believe that Trump not only performed well in the debate, but that he was also more “personable and likeable” than Clinton in those 90 minutes.
You truly mean to tell me that if Hillary Clinton had responded in like kind, interrupting with accusations like “Lies!”, “False!” and contemptuously addressing the moderator with, “Now wait a minute…did you ask me a question?” you would find that behavior befitting of the leader of the free world? You don’t believe Donald Trump was either articulate or likeable or even lucid in those moments. You don’t believe that for a single second. The only reason Ghanaian men (and men all over Africa caping for him right now) support Trump is because he represents the very worst of toxic male masculinity that is only tolerated because of wealth. Dassit. Trump represents the guy that the reprehensible man buried not-so-deeply in these men wish they could boldly and publicly be: the sexist, cheating, unrepentant bigot shielded by privilege and powerful connections. These are men who pay lip service to the cause of equality and justice, but given the opportunity, they’d gladly trade the beggar’s rags of goodwill for a chance at stepping on the little guy. It is the ONLY reason someone like Donald Trump would be seen as a hero on an acceptable human being. If he’s gotten this far in politics and in his business dealings, it means that they have a chance as well.
Wanlov the Kubolor said something in an interview a long time ago that has always stuck with me. Paraphrasing, he said the average Ghanaian isn’t looking for equality or justice. The average Ghanaian is just looking for his turn on top.
That’s the only motivation an African Trump supporter can have. It’s not because he’s a successful businessman (because he really isn’t) and it certainly isn’t because he holds the “conservative Christian values” the lot of you claim to hold so dear. It’s because he’s a petulant douchebag whose privilege allows him to get away with anything he wants – including robbing children and the military by refusing to pay his fair share and calling it “smart”. That’s your role model. Never mind his opinion of you as a Black immigrant is so low that he’d see you targeted and abused by law enforcement on the street and then have you deported. Noooo…as long as he keeps women in their place and games the system, he’s your guy.
To quote Esther Armah, “Thank God none of you can vote.”
But know that you’ve exposed for the Black white supremacists that you are. Seek help for your self-hatred, okay?
Do you plan on watching the next debate, or did this one turn you off? Are you a Swing Voter? Did either candidate’s performance sway you? For our part, Nadjah and I will be up and ready on October 9th for more fun and shenanigans!