Following the 2016 presidential election, which saw Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral college but not the popular vote, a lot of Americans are struggling with the reality that a man they believe is unfit to be president will, in fact, take over the Oval Office in 2017.
While he’s certainly not celebrating the results, Bob the Drag Queen — the season 8 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race — is living up to his slogan as ‘A Queen for the People.’ Speaking to Billboard the day after the election (Nov. 9), Bob (real name Christopher Caldwell) talks about his concerns for the country’s future while still urging everyone to resist an us-against-them mentality.
Bob partially finds solace in his belief that Donald Trump, in a sense, is a political drag queen. “He was wearing the Republican garb to get the Republican vote,” Bob opines. “If you look at his ideals and life and his actions, he doesn’t lead an evangelical or conservative or Republican life. You think a man who goes around having illicit sex while he’s married, by his own admission, and who is a billionaire, doesn’t believe in abortion? You’re crazy.”
But even with the country facing an uncertain future for Roe v. Wade, immigration issues and transgender rights, Bob is maintaining some optimism — and a hope that Trump doesn’t believe a lot of what Trump said during the campaign.
How are you feeling?
We lost the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, but maybe on the plus side, those Republicans on the other side are actual politicians — not crazy people. We didn’t vote in 1,000 Donald Trumps; we just voted in one. No one was expecting Trump to actually pull this off. Twice in my lifetime now there’s been a presidential candidate who received more votes and still lost the presidency. And that’s a hard pill to swallow looking at the way our democracy is shaped. You can receive less votes and still be the president of the United States of America. And it’s staggering by how many votes. They’re projecting it to be about 200,000 votes [in between the total count]. That’s like three Madonna concerts and one Beyonce concert full of people.
Why do you think Trump attracted so many people with his message?
In the last three elections, the voting count has gone down, and this was less than last time. But he did get a lot of people who didn’t vote before. It’s all fear-mongering. If you can convince people that all of our problems are foreign and not domestic, and the domestic problems are coming from higher-ups… Which by the way, most of our terrorism comes from within the United States by an overwhelming number, they just don’t slap the name terrorism on it when it happens here in America. But when someone is a Muslim, they slap that on it. Or that most of our methamphetamines are produced right here in the good ole United States of America — but they like to think that Mexico is the reason we have so many drugs in America. Or the idea that the problem with America is drugs. Or that black people, or as he calls us, “the inner cities,” don’t have education and that we shoot people walking down the street. You say the same thing over and over again, and whether it’s true, you keep saying it, people just believe it after a while.
His campaign made such a big point about building a wall between Mexico and deporting people – do you think there’s a chance either will happen?
Well it’s statistically not possible for Donald Trump to deport some 16 million people. There aren’t 16 million people in the state of Georgia. That’s how many people he’s talking about running out, and they’re spread around the country. It’s not possible. Maybe if anything, Mexico will pay for the wall to keep us all out. Maybe the end game was to spook everyone to build a wall to keep us out. It sounds very North Korea in a way — everyone out, no one can leave.
As a queer and black person, are you worried about anything in particular?
I’m more worried about the rights of women and trans people than blacks and queers, to be honest.
Do you think Planned Parenthood is in real danger?
He said in no unclear terms, him and his vice president, they are overturning Roe. V. Wade and ‘we want to get out there and make abortions illegal again.’ And he will certainly be appointing one Supreme Court Justice, maybe two, and that’s a real, probable thing that can happen.
For those scared by that, what do you think can be done?
Everyone is like, “I’m leaving.” First of all, I think Americans think it’s easy — but that’s not how immigration works. Also while Canada is physically a large country, most of its civilization is 20-30 miles north of the border. Canada has a tenth of the population America has. They couldn’t even support another 10 million who showed up — that would be adding a fourth of people to their own population, which is around 34 million.
And it’s running from the problem.
Right, you’re planning to leave behind everyone you were ready to fight for? Americans should try their best to hold him to his word [during his acceptance speech] that he’s going to try to unify our country. By the way, that’s the first time he’s ever said something like that. All he’s ever said was “I’m going to lock up Hillary Clinton, I’m gonna sue states for voter fraud, sue every woman who says I molested her, sue everyone, they’ll owe me money and I’ll be king of the land.” And the really scary thing is, I think, he thinks he tells the truth. During his speech last night someone in the audience yelled out “Kill Obama” and the little boy next to him, his eyes widened really big for one second. It’s a really jarring moment.
That’s really scary. Do you think there’s a chance any of this was bait and switch? This is someone who identified as a pro choice, unreligious liberal for most of his life, and only recently said he’s a pro-life, Christian conservative.
I don’t think that president-elect Donald Trump under any circumstances genuinely believes all of the rhetoric he’s spewing. He just wants to be empowered by a Party, and he chose the Republican Party. You think a man who goes around having illicit sex while he’s married, by his own admission, and who is a billionaire, doesn’t believe in abortion? You’re crazy. And he’s not a religious person. I don’t think he genuinely has anything against gay marriage. He just knows what he has to say to get the constituents, and he did.
He did hold up an LGBT flag at a recent rally, something no other Republican presidential candidate has done.
I genuinely don’t think Donald Trump has real religious leanings. He’s wearing it. He was wearing the Republican garb to get the Republican vote. If you look at his ideals and life and his actions, he doesn’t lead an evangelical or conservative or Republican life. He leads the life of a liberal loudmouth with a lot of money. I didn’t believe Barack Obama the first time he said he didn’t believe in gay marriage, just like I don’t believe Donald Trump believes that. Candidates can’t be honest. Bernie was that candidate but America wasn’t ready for it. Americans weren’t ready for someone who thinks marijuana might be good for the country, someone who thinks the wealthy should do their fair share — for some reason our bipartisan system doesn’t represent that.
What do you feel like is next?
I think people’s reaction has been to shut down, which is the exact opposite of what needs to be done. Even when it seems impossible for people to unify — and this was a really divisive election, there’s never been people yelling to lock up the other candidate at a rally for the other one, and that’s because he promised to. We should really try to be actually engaged with one another and affect a positive change in the world. They say you change the world when you change your mind. When I walk down the street or travel America and feel like, “There’s an awful 50-50 chance you were one of the people that made this happen” — and I’ve been looking at everyone twice now — but I’m also trying to remember that I don’t think people act from a place of evil. And a lot stems from fear. That’s why I’m trying to change my mind so I don’t walk around looking at everyone through shit-tinted lenses and thinking everyone is shitty. That’s why I ask myself, “Why did you do this, what were you afraid of? And how can we as a people address that.” It was all fear mongering. “The Muslins are gonna get us, terrorists, Mexicans,” and not pointing out that we do most of our own damage to ourselves. But information and knowledge is power. The way to change power is to get knowledge. Or sometimes people do in a dastardly way, which is to keep knowledge from people. But remember, maybe, there’s a glimmer of hope in the fact that most of America didn’t vote for Donald Trump — it’s just the way our system is set up. I said this on [RuPaul’s Drag Race] but I believe it. “Everything works out in the end” — it’s just now the end is a little further away.
Plus, Zara Larsson on Trump’s Election: ‘It Was Supposed to Be a Joke, It Was Not Supposed to Happen’