As I write this, I am watching a run up to the Clinton V Trump debate. Now, I know I don’t really want to get political on this blog but I feel as we here in Ireland are inexorably linked to the United States, we have to sit up and take notice once in a while.
Throughout the campaign, I have noticed the fervent following Trump has acquired over the last year or so. This is startling, from an Irish perspective it seems like America (the self proclaimed best country in the world) has somehow lost the run of itself. When I was growing up in Ireland, we looked to America as the “better off” cousin who had all the cool toys. Now it seems like that cousin we try to avoid at weddings and other family functions (we all have one, guys).
The unfortunate effect this has can be characterized on an academic level also. If the U.S. votes for Trump, what will become of some of the world’s best third level institutions? He has already vowed to end illegal immigration and to “make America great again” (whatever that means), this will cost money, this is Donald Trump after all, a businessman who has declared bankruptcy numerous times in the past.
Since most of our understanding in Digital Humanities comes from U.S. institutions I am worried about how the rise of ignorance stateside can have a negative impact on academia here in Europe. It is impossible to say how the election will go at this point, but all of Trumps’ frankly inappropriate, bewildering and nonsensical campaign promises (which his supporters swallow with utter glee) will cost the U.S. taxpayer a lot of money, which means either higher taxes (he promises to cut taxes), or education, health and various other governmental departments will have to bear the brunt of horrendous funding cuts.
Historical factors also play into my fears, when Hitler was elected as chancellor of Germany in 1936, it showed how a nation, draped in arrogant nationalism can quickly defy all reason and logic to, as Hitler always put it, make his nation great once more.
Throughout my journey through Digital Humanities, I have been taught to ask the tough questions and investigate the “why’s” and “how’s” of academic readings and I have only very recently applied this way of thinking to the political structures of Ireland, Europe, the U.K. and the United States and I must say, I have only been left with more questions than solid answers thus far.