We all made Donald Trump, but we can also Unmake him
Donald Trump is our collective subconscious run rampant. He’s the crystallization of the worst of our violent and sexual drives. Trump is Ronald Reagan without the tact; he’s a former TV star who wants to institute racial policies against the poorest and most dispossessed of society. He’s the inner child who went off the leash, the rabid dog of white supremacist capitalist heterosexist patriarchy that speaks to those of us in society who think we’re losing our power.
And we made him. Through our love and our hatred, through the media and through our cultural structures, we made him.
The left not only hates him, they like hating him; new insults flood the airways after a new Trump interview or tweet emerges. Barack Obama’s DNC speech — as beautiful as it was — was partly a 45-minute tirade against the potential dangers of a Trump presidency. Hillary Clinton’s entire campaign strategy, as far as I can tell, is to market Trump as so much of a danger that we have no other choice but to vote for her. And all of this contributes to the rising of Trump’s popularity, the maintenance of his relevance, and the perpetuation of his presence in our collective lives.
But as much as we may love to hate Trump, we also love to love Trump. Trump exposed what black, brown, and indigenous people and women of color already knew about this country — namely, that racism never went away, and that sexism is central to the fabric of this society. The difference is that, now, the white hoods are taking their hoods off — literally — and letting everyone know their position. And like his predecessor, (white) people love him. They love him because he “speaks his mind,” because whatever pops into that orange, yellow, and white head of his flows out of his mouth like shit flows out of person with a stomach virus. I don’t care if HRC apologized; she was right: at least half of Trump’s supporters are deplorable, unworthy of my words, and for damn sure unworthy of my contact and my brilliance.
Both sides made Trump possible. His racist supporters were hype by his comments, and his detractors angrily denounce him, creating a whirlwind of emotion and affective force that keeps him at the eye of it all. Liberal and Conservative outlets would give him free time, just wanting to hear from the Donald, to capitalize on another sound bite that would generate clicks, which would generate dollars. Media outlets channeled our emotions into money, mining our intense anger or intense support or intense fear for the capitalist gold mines they were (I literally just got an update on my phone from Huffpost about who? none other than the Donald himself).
But it wasn’t just the media. It is the very structure of this country that created Donald Trump — the narcissistic normativity of white cisgender maleness — and occasioned his rise to the top. It was the responses to the blacklivesmatter movement and the backlash against a black president; it was the ascension of a woman to the top of a major political party; it was the ability for folks like George Soros and the Koch Brothers to manipulate elections through money; it was the perpetuation of rape culture and the discrediting and (here in Texas) incarceration of rape victims; it was the threat of blackness, brownness and religious diversity; in short, it was the threat of dismantling white power that occasioned Trump’s rise. And we all contributed to that. Positively or negatively, we all made that happen.
So why are we surprised or outraged when a narcissistic heterosexual white cisgender man does what narcissistic heterosexual white cisgender men do? How is it possible for republicans to try and distance themselves from a person they nominated? And side note: doesn’t saying you have a daughter or wife demonstrate the same kind of narcissistic white male normativity that you seek to distance yourself from — as if your family is the only family that matters? As if you having a daughter or wife somehow gives you purchase on gender equality — all while you try to deny women the very right to govern their own bodies? If Trump claims that powerful men can grab women by their vaginas, don’t you mirror this claim in your legislative and economic chokehold on women’s bodies? Are you not perpetuating the very bullshit you think you’re distancing yourself from?
But liberals — black, white, Latinx, indigenous, or otherwise — shouldn’t be self-righteous either. After all, the liberal denunciation of black violent protest is always and already in service of white capitalism — which cannot ever be divorced from the property laws created to protect white men. Angela Davis tells us that rape laws came into play not to protect women — white or otherwise — but rather to protect men and the property they owned in the form of their daughters and wives. To critique the destruction of property, to revile the genuine cries of black outrage and to deride the authentic expression of black anger, is to structurally perpetuate the same logic that made Trump rich — and therefore occasioned his rise to political fame and the revelation of the depths of his misogyny.
We’re all complicit in this — myself included. I myself have said things that shouldn’t have been said, and perpetuated the misogyny running rampant in our country. I don’t excuse myself, standing as some high-minded prophetic figure yelling from the mountaintop. I’ve fucked up too — and will always fuck up as long as sexism and misogyny exists. I’ve contributed to Trump’s ascendancy even as I pray for his economic and political demise. So this isn’t Kanye West’s blame game.
Instead it is an acknowledgement that we all made this motherfucker.
But it’s also an acknowledgement that, if we made him, then we can unmake him — and each and every other man (including myself) who would try to be birthed (you see what I did there?) from his ashes. If his rise is directly correlated to the threat of dismantling white power, then we can fulfill that threat by displacing white male normativity.
For those of us who want Trump gone — and do not want another one to arise in his ashes — we have many avenues we can take. None of these solutions include voting for Hillary Clinton. I put this in bold because it seems that we’re so politically uncreative in this country that the only thing we can think of to make change is to vote for another president. But this is such a shallow suggestion that it doesn’t deserve another word.
Anyway, here are my suggestions:
- We can create a tax system that does not reward a person for being rich, but distributes wealth in a way that everyone can win.
- We can disconnect politics from money. The richest parties shouldn’t be the only ones getting play.
- We can get rid of the electoral college. That shit was old 150 years ago.
- We can deconstruct the school-to-prison pipeline by first providing equitable quality in grade school education and making public college education free (yeah I said it).
- We can get rid of this Obamacare system and produce a better one: it’s called universal healthcare.
- We can demilitarize police departments, shrink their staff, and disempower police unions so that people can and will be held accountable when they murder or commit crimes.
- We can demand that companies give equal pay for equal work.
- We can require sex education in high school to rigorously teach about and teach against sexual assault.
- We can shrink the military and build a foreign policy organized around diplomacy and not surveillance or overpowering.
- We can admit our faults to the world and to our citizens, own up to them, and make amends.
This last one is crucial.
These are just a few. Let’s not think that only GOTV campaigns or cheap appeals to Obama’s legacy will be enough to get rid of the ugliness that lurks and parades in our midst.
We’ve created a monster. Now let’s kill this monster and ensure it never rears its ugly head again.