As we approach the end of the year, it is important to remember some of the protagonists of the year, like Time magazine's "Person of the Year." Donald #trump, who is also referred to in the magazine as the ‘president of the divided states of America’, should stand out most not because he was able to win against all odds, but because a large portion of the population is clinging to his empty promises. The greatest question of all is how will he deal with such a fractured and collectively traumatized American society?.
What is collective trauma?
The term #collective trauma surfaced because of the thoughts of French sociologist Emile Durkheim in the 20th century. She explained that we all share social norms, morals, and behaviors that connect us and help us make sense of our everyday lives. Thus, when these are destroyed because of distressing events, our chances of resuming such simple but ever-valuable habits dwindle and collective trauma emerges.
A battle within Trump and America
Will we be seeing "candidate Trump" or "president-elect Trump" once he takes office next year? We know how frivolous "candidate Trump" can be; he has proven to be a TV personality that operates in chaos like fish in the water. His racist remarks about Muslims or offensive ones about women might not be a thing only of the past. However, if he adopts such a position as president he risks turning a great part of the population against him. On the other hand, this is who America wanted as president, and we have to respect that..
We cannot ignore the main fact, even if we want to. Donald Trump was a deserving winner. A majority of electoral votes sealed his win. This majority is white and largely constitutes a dying working class. These are people who are increasingly losing their jobs because of cheaper and automated labor that is not only eliminating their solid incomes but also crushing a way of living they had built over the years in their close-knit villages alongside their comparable friends.
Trump, a man who ironically personifies white elitism, came into the picture and produced a populist and anti-elitist discourse that offered salvation to many. They grabbed it. The rest is history, but what is not is the collective trauma that has been haunting these people who voted for him, and with whom he now has a debt.
Which Trump to expect in 2017?
What I believe we will be watching next year is a similar version of "president-elect Trump." Only hours after emerging victorious from the elections he was already bearing a different attitude.
Kind words directed towards Hillary Clinton were flowing out of his mouth, for example. In the following weeks, we have also seen the diplomatic side of Trump, who is already making amends, in the name of the US, with the Russians. I don’t think his own government nor the American people will let his radical side surface regularly. He has been and will continue to be scrutinized carefully, even before his actions.
What he will also have to deal with is a distinct collective trauma on the other end of the spectrum. Those who were expecting Hillary Clinton to emerge victorious faced shock. The polls had deceived them. What they thought was true and the joy they had imagined had suddenly disappeared.
They thought they were living in a world where certain values and morals stood before anything else, where some boundaries could not be crossed, and where some ends did not justify the means, especially by leaders who are expected to be exemplary. They believed they were living in a world where obscenity was denounced, racism rejected, and misogyny condemned. What should they believe now?
A collective trauma has probably put Trump in power. Another collective trauma has resulted from this scenario. Now, all falls in the hands of a novice politician but experienced businessman who needs to deal with these existing traumas in American society, one way or another. What would be unfortunate would be to see both persisting next year. #2017