Over the past few weeks Americans have cast their votes, but today will go down in history as the new 9/11. 9th November, the day America self-destructed. In my head I’d been mentally preparing for this by thinking of it as ‘Brexit all over again’, but in fact it is far, far worse than that. This morning we find ourselves living in Donald Trump’s dream world, and for some of us it is not a restful sleep.
I awoke this morning to discover I now live in Clusterfuck, Arizona. A small, self-important Republican town, which, with delusions of grandeur, calls itself a city. The Walmart has an aisle of preppers supplies for ‘keeping your family safe in troubled times’. Government buildings sport polite signs asking patrons not to take their firearms inside. There is an air of resolute expectancy, as if the zombie apocalypse could happen at any moment. And, in a way, it has happened today.
Last night when I arrived home my husband and a friend, both university professors, were watching the results come in. They had both been crying. We watched with mounting horror, hugging each other and steadily hitting the gin bottle in the hope that it might soften the blow when it came. But it didn’t. Our friend is married to a beautiful South American woman who was having to cope with the news down in Phoenix, alone, with her two small children. He was torn between wanting to call her to find out if she was OK, and not wanting to call for fear of waking her with the bad news if she was already asleep. We discussed exit strategies, noting that the Canadian immigration website had already crashed earlier in the evening. Trump’s ‘no foreigners’ policy is already beginning to take effect, before he is even in office. Our friends will probably escape to South America. As a recent immigrant I’m on a temporary Green Card until I can apply for citizenship in two years’ time. Now I don’t know if that will happen, or if Trump intends to deport all non-Americans, regardless of family ties. He’s not been exactly clear on this issue. Possibly in my favor is the fact that I’m white, although being a slightly overweight, left-handed LGBT female will probably count against me. Who knows what criteria the Witchfinder General will apply once he gets the chance. Above all, the most frightening thing is what he will do with the nuclear codes when he sees that big, shiny red button. Like all spoilt little boys, Trump will want to push it first. We cry ourselves to sleep.
This morning my Facebook page fills with sympathetic comments from friends back in the UK, but none of them can be feeling the desperation that we feel here in America. Being an immigrant in a small-minded, insular mountain town is not easy. I stand out, I talk funny, my UK qualifications don’t count for anything here; I can’t get work. Trump’s strategy has worked; the fear is contagious. I don’t know how people will react to me today when I leave the house. Our tenuous bubbles of safety have burst, and xenophobic America is seeping in.
I hear a snapping sound from the garden. Something has shorted the electric fence. That’s how I feel about America this morning. The thin wires which yesterday kept our garden safe from predators have broken down. We have been wrong about everything, and now we don’t know how to keep ourselves safe. Driving into town, a deer leaps into the road from the creek, as if sacrificing itself as roadkill is the preferred option to waiting for the zombie apocalypse of Trump’s Brave New World.