I have to say that my expectations of the outcome of the recent American election were already somewhat lower than The Mom’s. Because of Brexit. The polls indicated that Remain would win, not by a large margin, but everyone was predicting a win. And in the aftermath, I went through a similar kind of shock that she must be feeling now over the American results.
But to say that my expectations were lowered is not to say that my hopes were any different. I had hoped that Mrs. Clinton would win because she seemed an excellent candidate: intelligent, diligent, calm, and rational. I don’t look for a lot of showmanship in my leaders, in fact, and this might be an unpopular opinion, but I rather liked Gordon Brown when he was PM of the UK. He wasn’t showy, not the kind of person that you could imagine really enjoying working the room at a drinks party, but stable, considered, the qualities I like in a leader of a massive big country.
I didn’t stay up to watch the election results come in here, and I advised The Mom to not stay up all night, telling her that whatever happened would still be happening in the morning, and that to be well-rested might be advantageous. The results start coming in here about 11pm and regardles of the result, I knew I’d have to go to work in the morning.
And I did, and it was a strange scene. Post-Brexit, we didn’t get a lot of work done. Everyone just stared at their screens, watching the BBC news with headphones, until Cameron decided to come out and resign. That we all watched together. Then I went to go get my new hearing aids from the hospital down the road, and a lovely German doctor saw me and told me that if I left the UK, the hearing aids would have to stay here, as they were property of the NHS.
It was such a strange thing to say, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the referendum result. That tiny thing spoke to me in a way that was difficult to explain, but that made it clear that Britain was for British people.
I came home after work, and settled in to watch the news, to see the disbelief on the news readers’ faces, and The Mom phoned up about halfway through. The ringing phone caught me off guard and I nearly spilled the dinner I wasn’t enjoying.
“Hi,” she said. “I am so incredibly depressed right now. Can you have a fast Skype?”
I’ve never said no to her offer of a chat before. Well, I probably have, but it’s a rarity. That day though, I just didn’t have the energy to get worked up about the election. All day at the office I had been extraordinarily quiet – people who know me very well know that when I don’t say anything, not even talking aloud to my imaginary friends (who, at the office amount to things I read on the internet and my desk piñata Colin). The Mom knows this but of course hadn’t been at the office with me all day and was desperate to chat. But I couldn’t. I had used up all my disbelief after Brexit, and was too glum to talk about anything. I didn’t have any anger left in me at all. I was outraged at the result, and disappointed, and though talking to The Mom is almost always enjoyable and usually perks me up, I couldn’t.
I told her I’d speak to her at the weekend, and that I was too exhausted to chat. Then I watched the rest of the news, and at the end of the programme, when I would normally make a cup of tea and get back to writing a novel, I put Netflix on and watched a film. I don’t even remember which one. It was probably a rom com – a genre of film that I am not overly keen on but that night I would’ve even watched Briget Jones.
In the end I suppose we’ll all reap what we sow. It was Remembrance Sunday here today, as I write this, and Mariene Le Pen was on the BBC today. Things have changed in our world and suddenly I am no longer certain that the values I thought we shared hold true and fast.
The Mom said her expectations have been lowered now, and for me this is one of the biggest disappointments. Not that her expectations alone have been lowered, but expectations in general have been. I believe our leaders ought to live up to the highest standards. That to be leaders they must also be role models, not only to our children, but to all of us. So instead of looking at President-elect Trump as a role model, which he most certainly is not, I’m seeking out other leaders. Mr. Trudeau, who while certainly not perfect, is a good choice, and over here in the UK, I am cheered by Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland. These are people who are doing their best to stand up for diversity in all its many guises. These are people to whom you can say, I think you can do better, and trust that they will try.