(This week the Humor and Satire section is giving pause to reflect on the pain and fear caused by Trump’s election)
60 million people voted for Trump, but many more propelled him into office. The Liberal establishment is deeply implicated in Trump’s election given its longstanding neglect and abuse of marginalized people, particularly people of color and rural populations. Our country is not “going back 50 years.” Trump’s popularity is consistent with the now, with the racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, classism and other forms of oppression erupting from the Right and supported by the Left, including by people like Hillary Clinton.
As Thomas Frank recently pointed out in The Guardian, “[T]here is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone– except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the ‘last thing standing’ between us and the end of the world.”
The Democratic Party is only Left-wing when compared to the Republican Party. The Democrats have orchestrated “Wars on Terror,” bailed out Wall Street, pushed mass incarceration, dismissed racist police terror while asserting that “all lives matter,” ignored continued segregation, deported millions, supported occupation of Palestinian territory, made non-committal promises regarding climate change, hollowly championed white feminism, remained mostly silent about Standing Rock and overseen vast increases in wealth inequality right alongside the Republicans.
In response to the election, many Clinton supporters have chanted that they are “still with her.” But has she ever really been with most of us? Her interests have, at heart, been to maintain American hegemony abroad and satisfy American business elites at home. Speaking as one Hillary voter, supporting the lesser of two evils is not social justice politics. We cannot let ourselves be deluded into thinking that just by casting a Liberal vote, we are doing our part to fight injustice.
Trump’s presidency signals a new urgency to fight back beyond the ballot. How many more people will now be unable to receive medical treatment? How many more will be sexually assaulted? How many more Muslim people will be attacked or scapegoated? How many more Black people shot with impunity on the streets? How many more Central American and Mexican people living in the U.S. will be deported?
To all “progressive” white people–and this includes you, fellow white women–we need to do better. People of color have been charging us, along with the Democratic Party and entire U.S. government, with all degrees of racism for as long as we can remember, but we haven’t wanted to listen. In addition, we have neglected to engage our white friends and family enough in critical dialogue about race. Now is not the time to delete our overtly racist Facebook friends. If we truly care about dismantling racism in this country, we have to do the work. If we aren’t discussing or acting against racism, we are only going to continue acting shocked when bad things continue to happen.
Racism isn’t the only axis of oppression we need to address. This election has highlighted the desperation of lower-income rural white people. As David Wong points out, “Step outside of the city, and the suicide rate among young people fucking doubles. The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery went to the cities. The rate of new businesses opening in rural areas has utterly collapsed … To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. Are you assholes listening now?”(Cracked, “How Half of America Lost Its F***ing Mind,” 10.12.2016).
While continuing to fight racism, we need to address rural voters’ real economic concerns. This being said, it is flawed to blame Trump’s victory entirely on the government’s classism toward rural white people. Both college-educated and non-college educated white folks came out for Trump.
In fact, more white college-educated voters chose Trump than Clinton. Take this in contrast to the huge majority of voters of color with no degree who voted for Clinton (The Guardian, “White and Wealthy Voters Gave Victory to Donald Trump, Exit Polls Show,” 11.09.2016). Racism is clearly at play.
Despite their differences, both Trump and Hillary represent racist corporate interests. Now is the time to recognize this and fight back. The rules of our world are not as fixed as they may seem.