As as existentialist I take full responsibility for the recent election of Donald Trump. I neither supported him nor voted for him, but there is always more that can be done to actualize the world you want to live in, as opposed to the one you find yourself thrust into. Trump was a response to a crisis of vision, not just on Clinton’s part, but on the part of us all. We philosophers especially must shoulder the blame for being derelict in our duties to see beyond the shadows of the present and into a compelling brighter future.
We do not know, at this hour, what a Trump presidency will look like. I don’t believe he has any solid ideological convictions, or lasting loyalties beyond his inner circle of immediate descendants. Those who voted in the belief they were getting a conservative, a nationalist, a race warrior, a gun-rights activist, or a pro-lifer may all live to be disappointed in their turn. Disappointed as well, however, may be those who anticipate (or at least hope) he will grow to fill the demands of the office. The best-case scenario might be a speedy impeachment, or, less dramatically, that he contents himself with the role of figurehead-in-chief, and delegates all the actual work of governance to someone at least minimally competent.
What are the dangers ahead? I take the prospect of a Trump presidency as an existential nuclear threat quite seriously, and also the prospect that he might be an unwitting tool of the sinister Mr. Putin. Everything else is probably survivable for four years –we do live under a system specifically designed to be robust against the advent of a bad leader.
Whether or not he himself believes the rhetoric, Trump has already greatly emboldened some of the most negative sections of national fabric, and we can expect at least some fallout from a newly visible and vastly strengthened racist, nationalist and religionist movement. It will likely be a bad four years to be a (non-European) immigrant. Things may get worse in general for citizens of color. We’re almost certainly looking towards another round of bad economic times, and a reversal of progress against climate change at a particularly crucial juncture.
History teaches it that it is all too easy for things to get much much worse, and we need to be vigilant against those possibilities. However, every crisis is also an opportunity. This election has smashed some old coalitions and forged some new ones. If this turn of events lights enough of a fire under enough of the right people, maybe we can indeed find new ways to be stronger together after all.