Trumperdämmerung

The United States has gone in the direction of other Western countries that have allowed right-wing white nationalism to infect their countries via the election of Donald J Trump.

Don’t tell me that Trump voters chose him because of mere economic anguish on its own. White Trump voters chose racism, bigotry and the systemic oppression of women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, Muslims, Jews and anyone else who doesn’t fit into the idealised cisgender, white, straight, Christian, abled, male mould. It’s the Southern Strategy in its grossest form, originally perfected by Richard Nixon and continued by the Reagan and Bush administrations. Would Bernie Sanders have beaten Trump? Probably not. As much as I liked his advocacy for decreased income inequality, voters of colour didn’t choose him in the Democratic primaries. Trump’s specific appeal is the racism. It’s the sexism. It’s the hatred of marginalised people. Even if individual Trump voters may not be stereotypical Confederate flag-waving, slur-using, racists, they are insulated from racial oppression. Trump’s highest margins came from the whitest regions in the country. These people live their lives without interacting with PoC, or Muslims, or people whose political views are drastically different from theirs, and so they can vote for Trump without thinking of the consequences.

If it were truly about economics, those people would have turned out for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. They would have supported Elizabeth Warren. Instead, they went to Trump, who promised in his words and actions that he would restore blatant white supremacy in the United States. The backlash against a black president, and the strong likelihood that a woman whose policy was based on inclusion would succeed him, sent them running into Trump’s arms. Never mind that Trump is an inveterate liar, a craven opportunist, an abuser of women and an amoral con artist. He said he’d make America white again. He fed right into fantasies of the old order before the Civil Rights Movement and the Obama presidency.

This man hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet, and his supporters are already emboldened. There have been numerous reports of people of colour, women, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, Muslims and Jews being physically and emotionally assaulted by Trump supporters who feel that his election gives them carte blanche to exact revenge on everyone they consider Other. This is similar to what happened in the UK after the Brexit vote–again, they thought the vote gave them licence to abuse and marginalise others.

If you voted for Donald Trump, you are complicit. If you enabled Trump by stressing ‘economic anguish’ over the hatred he promulgated for the past year, you are also complicit. If you reported on Trump dispassionately without condemning his behaviour, you are also complicit. I will not go out of my way to empathise with ‘poor, suffering Trump supporters’, since most of those Trump supporters had higher incomes than the Clinton voters. If you voted for Trump, you told me and people like me that our lives are worthless.

Dark days are ahead. I’m struggling. I know people reading this may be too. As long as I’m here, I’ll keep writing.

2 thoughts on “Trumperdämmerung

  1. Two quick comments:

    1) I think we have to look at our own failings as well, in seeing why Rust Belt voters were pulled in by a racist/misogynistic demagogue. The far-right, historically, has tended to be a movement of insecure middle class interest. When you have economically insecure people who are losing their middle-class status, they can either punch down to preserve their station or punch up to raise theirs. They punched down.

    I think a significant number could have been won to the left if more emphasis were placed on the fact that Trump is a pseudo-populist who wants massive tax cuts for the wealthy and supports “right-to-work” laws. Instead these were put into the background, the main debates between the candidates being a policy-light referendum on Trump’s temperament. Definitely an important issue, I don’t think he’s fit for office based on it, but not the kind of thing that’s viscerally important to voters in Springsteenville. Especially when our candidate unhelpfully burnished “DC insider” cred to help the “I have the experience and the stable temperament” message up, doing things like picking non-entity Tim Kaine for VP when there were options on the short-list like Tom Perez, Eric Garcetti, and Elizabeth Warren who would have reinforced a policy-based “Trump is a pseudo-populist” message. We risk losing the Midwest without including in our list of emphases class issues that scare the big donors but unite workers of all backgrounds.

    2) I’m skeptical of “Bernie would have won” too, since Virginia would have been more at risk if he were the candidate with its usual preference for “establishment” candidates. But I do think Bernie would have fared better since his message does resonate among Rust Belt voters. Bear in mind, Black turnout was very low even with Clinton. Partly due to voter disenfranchisement laws in Wisconsin and North Carolina (where Trump’s margin of victory was higher than the polling’s margin of error), but these weren’t a factor in Pennsylvania and Michigan (where it wasn’t); mostly due to abject dejection. I suspect Latino turnout would be high anyway, Sanders offered nothing Clinton didn’t on issues relevant to their community. Given that, “stop Trump” is motivation alone to get out the vote considering how unabashedly Know-Nothing his campaign was.

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