So I am off to California. Apart from a brief stop in San Francisco nearly twenty years ago, I have never been there. As a movie fan, I am beyond excited about Los Angeles and Hollywood. And I am going to attempt to learn to surf. (Or maybe paddleboard - a little more sedate.)
However, in this American election year, I am also curious about what we will find. We are staying in San Diego too, near the Mexican border. I intend to take my family to see the current arrangements - high metal border gates and so on. I think it is important for us to see the physical manifestation of the way the world is going. If Trump has his way, it will be a brick edifice of course. But I think the border will be scary enough as it is. And we are people who are unaffected by it - at present.
I say 'at present' because I believe if Trump were to succeed to in his plans, there are implications for the whole world. The man is campaigning on a wave of hatred that could indeed propel him to the White House. But if he makes it to the Oval Office, can he then ride the riptide which he will have unleashed? Or will it be a closeout?
In the UK, reported hate crimes rose in the wake of the Brexit vote. The very worst of our society thought they suddenly had the right to treat others with contempt.
Now let's just pause and think about what might happen in the US in the wake of a Trump victory, where everyone has the right to carry guns. Guns so prevalent, incidentally, that a number of people are killed every year in the US by toddlers who have picked up loaded guns found in their homes. Terrifying, isn't it?
A politician aiming for national office in the US has to find factors which appeal to a huge variance in people, places and concerns. Unifying factors which have historically been all too often based on fears. The US is not the only place where this happens by any means. But its open society and importance to the world in general make the knock-on effects of its domestic politics very troubling.
So I am 'looking forward' - for want of a better phrase - to hearing 'the word on the street'. To seeing some of the bonkers TV election ads. To trying to gauge, just a little, what people think might happen. Although I don't think a Brit is the best person to ask for political predictions at the moment. Let alone surfing advice*.
*although I have been reading the slang. Can you tell??!