This film project — as well as most of my political work in the past four years — was directly inspired by Donald Trump’s election in 2016. The vote stimulated my disbelief, my anxiety, worry, curiosity — and as a consequence, it drove me to find out what was really going on in the world.
This film project would probably not exist if Hillary Clinton had won.
I do not live in America, I am not a US citizen, and it may seem surprising to some that the 2016 Presidential election had such an impact on my life. There are two reasons for this. The less important one is that I have always had a connection to the USA, ever since I went to live there as a teenager for a year, back in the summer of 1989. I have friends in America, I constantly observe and evaluate the impact that America has on our lives all around the world, and I am fascinated and frightened by the effects its culture has on us all. So I felt personally affected by an election in a country to which I feel this connection.
But the more important reason is this: For better or worse, the US President sets the tone for politics around the globe. And Trump maybe more than most, in ways that were so much worse than most. Sometimes his effect was direct and unmitigated — when he pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, for example. Sometimes it was indirect but no less horrendous — when his example stimulated other despotic fascist thugs or just plain old idiots in other high places around the world, to behave the way he did.
But I had no idea how deep that influence ran inside me. Until Sunday last. On Saturday, we all learned that Biden had won the election. And on Sunday morning, it suddenly dawned on me: From now on, everything would be different. Not for everyone or everything in the world, don’t get me wrong! But definitely for me.
And so I cried that morning.
Because only then did I truly realise the enormity of the last four years in my own life alone — how all my little struggles and attempts and projects had happened and existed under the black veil of the knowledge that the most powerful man on earth is against everything I am fighting for. Every single thing. How many times was Trump the first thing on my mind when I woke up in the morning! We live in a truly globalised world, the terrifying problems that we have as a species are shared by all of us. And in that one world, he was setting the tone – his monstrous, callous, sociopathic, global tone.
None of the problems are solved now, of course. They are still exactly as terrifying and enormous as they were a week ago. But the simple knowledge that from now on, an actual human being — with empathy, with the capacity to listen, to reason, to relate to other human beings — will sit in the White House does change everything for me.
The path for Biden and his people until January 20th and afterwards is going to be steep and long and hard, and the Republicans are showing a type of lax disrespect for, or outright loathing of democracy and its processes that is chilling to the bone. But I believe that the rule of law and the election results will reign. And that alone is an incredible victory. Which shows how low the USA have sunk.
But it is a light. Not the light at the end of the tunnel. But a torch that will allow us to carry on — so we may find the end of the tunnel.