President-Elect Donald Trump: Last Stand for White Supremacy?
The election of Donald Trump is perhaps the biggest political upset in American history. Not only did he lose the popular vote but he campaigned on the doctrine of anger, fear, and hate. While there are undoubtfully those who heard his dog whistle as a call to return America to the days and times of Jim Crow, others felt as though he gave voice to the politically voiceless. White, working-class, uneducated, rural voters viewed Donald Trump as their representative and Hillary Clinton as the embodiment of the establishment, the political elite, the status quo. Trump supporters happen to be more complicated and nuanced than democrats believed. During her campaign, Hillary Clinton said that half of them could be put into a “basket of deplorables.” But what is to be made of the other half? It would be unfair to generalize the millions of people who voted for Trump as racist, sexist, or xenophobic. However, it would be accurate to call them selfish. They cared more about what Trump said to them, than what he said to the rest of us. They were unphased by his distasteful messages to blacks, Mexicans, muslims, women, and LGBTQ’s, but inspired by his attitude of white nationalism.
The most important issue for voters in the 2016 election was not immigration or even terrorism, it was the economy. In the age of rapid globalization, working class whites feel that they’ve been left behind. The election of President Obama provided hope and a sense of political representation for African Americans, President-elect Trump is expected to do the same for working class whites. His victory has been described by some as a backlash to the growing influence of minoroties in America. Historically, whenever the scale of progress tipped in favor of blacks, it eventually titled back the other way but of course not by nature. In 1864 Congress passed the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constituion outlawing slavery, except as punishment for a crime. Shortly after, southern states passed black codes allowing local law enforecment authorities to arrest freedpeople for minor offenses as harmless as “disorderly behavior.” Countless blacks found themselves in chains once more. Reconstruction, which intended to unite northern and southern states following the civil war, was met with Jim Crow Laws, legalizing racial segregation in the south. Although blacks were deemed as “separate but equal”, black facilities were drastically inferior. Furthermore, Obama’s first and second term in office was pillaged with story after story of unarmed black men, women, and children being murdered by police. One might even recall the nine African Americans who were shot and killed last year during bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Finally, America’s first black president has been followed by the election of politically inexperienced real estate mogul and reality television star, Donald Trump.
After defeating Hillary Clinton, Trump gave a surprisingly gracious concession speech, one in which he spoke of unity and bringing the country together. Unfortunately, this did not heal the divide nor did it caution those who feel that racism, sexism, and religious intolerance is now socially acceptable. No one can be certain what a Donald Trump presidency may bring, but for those of you still struggling to accept this reality, take solace in the words of Dr. King:
“We have come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go before the problem is solved.”