Bias or Prejudice?

I've been abstaining from writing any blog posts about the recent American election because, to be completely frank, I find it hard to believe that the character model for Biff Tanner in Back to the Future II has been chosen to lead the most economically and militarily powerful nation in the history of the human race. I'm unhappy that some of the people being hired for incredibly powerful jobs have such an open disdain for people who think, act, or look different from them. I'm frustrated that a bunch of poor "winners" are running around, terrorising people who are not caucasian … or male … or of a certain religious affiliation. I'm disgusted to hear that legitimate lawsuits against the president-elect will be fluffed off because "he's too busy". I'm dismayed that the current president will need to support the new one, who openly mocks people who take the time to learn about the things they're doing. To top it all off, I'm angry that the threats against groups of people — be they Muslim or journalists — are coming from the very top of this next government, and that we've seen this sort of thing on numerous occasions in the past and bore witness to the horrific events that followed.

Yet, in the back of my mind, I'm wondering if all of these overly negative thoughts about the new leader of the American people are unfair.

Whenever I would read about Trump in the newspaper while growing up or as a young adult, the articles would focus on scandal or failures. Whenever I would see him on TV, which I'll admit was not very often, he would come across as a wannabe mafia don with his big mouth, harsh words, and the stereotypically flashy extravagance one would expect from a performer. He did not strike me as a political contender, becuase he did not strike me as someone I would ever want to make decisions that affected me or my family. If anything, four decades of press coverage has made the man out to be an opportunist who'll take advantage of any situation because "there's no such thing as bad publicity".

The same can be said about a number of people he's bringing into the Oval Office with him. People who are leading members of groups that exhalt racial supremacy, religious persecution, and other fascist ideas. People who took advantage of horrible situations to make themselves look like heroes. People who use their wealth to shut down opposing voices …

And I wonder if this is the end.

Not the end of civilization, of course. Civilization evolves. It changes and adapts to the needs of the people who forge the societies that constitute the very idea of civilization. But I wonder if this is the end of the Ameri-centric status quo that has existed for so long. Will we really see parallels between the Trump presidency and Hitler's Germany? Or will we merely see that Trump is another Silvio Berlusconi?

Is this just an overreaction due to bias? Or are my feelings seated more deeply than this? Is my bias actually prejudice that has been subconsciously moulded and formed over decades by reading The Guardian, The New York Times, and The National Post? These three papers from three different countries have very different editorial staff with different opinions, different agendas, and different backgrounds. Despite the differences, could they all have a similar bias that has fed into pre-seeded beliefs I've held, and could these biases have manifested into prejudice in such a way that I could feel physically ill just at the thought of a Trump presidency? Confirmation bias is a very real thing, and my preference for three specific news organisations likely came about as a direct result of reading articles that talked about the world through a lens that I was already familiar and comfortable with.

Regardless of who won the presidential election this year, there would be protests in the streets. Countries would align or distance themselves. Trade agreements would succeed or fail. Societal tensions would simmer or boil. CO² emissions would rise or fall. Yet I believe — and there's that word we must watch out for — that Hillary Clinton would have been a safer choice. Would she make mistakes? Absolutely. Would she do things I didn't agree with? Yes, of course. Heck, she's done lots of things in the past that I didn't agree with, but that's to be expected for a career politician who has been saddled with incredible responsibilities. Of the handful of people who ran for the most powerful office on the planet, she was perhaps the least likely to do something that would directly affect my friends and family around the world. She knew how to play the game, and she knew how to make the tough decisions. I don't believe Trump or Stein or any of the other contenders for the job have the requisite appreciation for the power one can wield as the President of the United States.

But again, is this just prejudice? I've been wrong before, and I've been wrong just about every time I've made a prediction about Trump's run for office. Maybe I'm wrong again this time, too. Maybe the man will invest heavily to rebuild the country's infrastructure, end wars, strengthen the economy, improve education, reduce the nation's prison population, and end gang-related violence in the poorest of urban communities through positive actions that vastly improve the quality of life for all Americans. Maybe Donald Trump really will make America great again … but I just can't see it. My bias — my prejudice — just won't allow it.