Confessions of a former Trump Supporter

There are times in our lives where we all have to hold our hands up and say, “Father I have sinned”. My most recent need to confess dates back to 2015. Fortunately, I’m not a religious man or I might need a more frequent visit to the confessional. In fact, I have to admit that I wanted Donald J. Trump to win. I wanted him to beat Hillary and I wanted him to do what I thought he would do, mess things royally up. My wish came true and the greatest wannabe dictator of the second half of the second decade of the 21st century didn’t disappoint in his actions one little bit. He did more damage than I ever thought possible for a man with the best words, the largest bank balance, the most charming family, the longest ties, the most flammable hair on Earth and a penchant for buckets of fried chicken.

Now, let me digress. I am not, I don’t think, a psychopath or sociopath. I don’t wish ill on the suffering. I don’t believe people with wealth have that wealth because they are smart and hard working. I don’t believe that the destruction of nature equals progress. And, I certainly don’t think Trump is leading a plucky band of saviors fighting against an elite pedophile ring that drinks the blood of children in pizza parlour basements. No, these are not the reasons I wanted the former reality TV star to take charge of the last remaining superpower.

In fact, I love people, animals, nature and our Earth. My principles and morals are probably in direct opposition to Mr. Trump’s. To boot, I am proud to be as bald as a koot.

So why would I wish the perfectly experienced Mrs. Clinton to lose and the Machiavellian orange con man to Trump her? Over the past decades, I have painfully watched the destruction of our planet, a huge and growing chasm appear between rich and poor, the embarrassing Disneyfication of our culture, the consistent bombing of people of colour with our hard earned taxes and the widespread government surveillance that has been illegally foisted on us with our own money. None of this originated with Trump, although he exasperated every factor except for foreign bombing.

No, the ecocide, rampant inequality, dumbing down of our culture and Orwellian scale state surveillance was instigated by neoliberalist Ayn Rand ideology. An ideology that has been embraced by every president of America since Reagan and every British Prime Minister since Thatcher. Regardless of party affiliation, both left and right wings belong to the same bird.

None of this is left to chance. This is the plan. Reduce people to red and blue so we can fight amongst ourselves as the true looting is carried out by the people with power. A guy with a lumberjack shirt and MAGA hat has more in common with a suburban bespectacled schoolteacher than he does with Trump. Likewise, a nurse from New York has more in common with a single mom in Arkansas than with Joe Biden. Yet, we fight against each other as every leader, regardless of preference for elephant or donkey, presides over ever more ecological destruction, more theft from the poor to the rich, evermore confining surveillance and a war on just about anything that can make a profit at the expense of lives and homes destroyed.

Can you imagine a populace so thoroughly enthralled by thousands upon thousands of TV stations that they no longer need to care, or shops selling longer and longer lists of completely unnecessary nonsense to keep us out spending bright sparkling coins rather than spending time in nature? That’s where we are, and it isn’t by chance. A population that no longer reads books because it is uncool to actually know things is an orgasm for leaders who enrich themselves as we stare at screens and LOL and POSL. Orwell foresaw this, but he thought it would come from authoritarianism, not free markets. The elites have long realized however, that you don’t need the jackboot to control anymore. Now, just give people enough entertainment, prescription drugs and every four years, throw in the ruse of a democratic election and people will be partying like it’s 1999. Welcome to our Brave New World.

Now this would all be fine and dandy if our actions weren’t having any consequences. Obviously, this isn’t the case. All of our actions have consequences and these consequences are building up gradually, and eventually they will explode in our faces. Actually, they already are. Wildfires tearing through forests and suburbs, storms battering coasts, droughts leaving food security in the balance and floods leaving many dead or homeless.

Our actions over the past century, and especially since the second world war have now caught up with us. We can all look at ourselves or others and point the blame, but as I’ve pointed out, there is a force driving our disgraceful consumption, lack of empathy and increasing levels of ignorance. That force is what we intermittently call free market capitalism, neoliberalism or Laissez-faire economics.

Neither left or right wings of the neoliberalist bird, have been, or are willing to accept that this system of infinite growth on a planet with extremely finite resources is doomed to failure. It was because of this that I wished one of the most atrocious human beings ever to have lived to one of the most powerful positions on Earth. I wanted him to wake people up to the reality we are in. I wanted them to put down their phones, turn off Netflix and become active in politics because politics is and always has been about life and death. Maybe not for you or I, but possibly for the person next door. We are all in this together. We are on a ship and that ship is sinking. We are surrounded by solutions, but they mean we must change our behaviour.

Now, I congratulate Joe Biden because one thing I did not foresee was that approximately half of Americans would continue to support a man so bereft of policy, ideology or basic empathy. These Americans are not the deplorables that Clinton labelled them as. They are the victims of a cruel and heartless system that prays on the poor and downtrodden. They are hard working Americans who had well-paying jobs until they were shipped every-way which to increase the profits of the few. They are farmers swallowed up whole and spat out by a system of industrial food production that channels money from farmers pockets into the vaults of some of the biggest corporations on Earth.

The end of Donald J. Trump will not be the end of America’s problems, just as getting rid of Boris Johnson will not change much in the UK. What needs to be done now is for the green new deal that Joe Biden has tried to distance himself from to be enacted at a rapid pace. It needs to be centered in the areas of high unemployment and poverty. Fossil fuels have to be removed from our economy and our agricultural systems have to be completely overhauled. This alone won’t be enough because our brothers and sisters will still be open to demagoguery. To avoid this, there needs to be huge educational reform aimed at creating critical thinkers rather than heads filled with irrelevant dates and names to be regurgitated on test day and forever forgotten.

So, I confess I wanted Trump to win in 2016, but after the horrors of the past four years, I was firmly behind Biden in 2020. I wish him well, but people cannot go back to sleep again and hope everything will work out well. We’ve seen what happens when we ignore reality. His feet must be held firmly to the fire and we must all remain vigilant because failure to do so will put us back at square one in four years’ time. Four years closer to climate catastrophe and staring at the prospect of Don Jr. or Ivanka running for office.

Simon is the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Japan. He is the author of the upcoming book, Dear Indy: A Father’s Plea for Climate Action.