This Christmas season, it may seem like there is no real hope in the face of Trump and his own empowerment of American authoritarianism. But there is,
and it begins with accepting one sobering fact. And then realizing who is truly fueling this new wave of resistance.
“Yeah, I pledge allegiance, to the United States of America… I pledge an allegiance to see that someday they will live up to their promises, to the victims that they call citizens…”
- Charles Mingus
We’ve only got twenty-one days left in 2017, and it feels as if this year was three. The current presidential administration under Donald J. Trump is for lack of a better term, a shit show. One fueled by hurricane-force winds of corruption, avarice, ego and racism. All spewing from the mind of Trump and others surrounding him. And it’s tainting everyone, in particular those in the cross-hairs of the Trump administration which are the poor, people of color, women and the LGBT community. Every day it’s some new cheapening of the American fabric that was already worn thin, such as the removal of rules protecting net neutrality or the tax bill, which is poised to be a massive money grab by Republican congressional figures to fatten the coffers of the elite in the country and further erode upward mobility for the rest of the country such as homeowners. And all of that has been this past week.
There’s been a huge resistance that is continuing, both offline and online. More and more people are beginning to take the investigations being conducted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and his team that highlight an intricate and concerted plot by the Russian government to interfere and influence the 2016 Presidential elections. More people are dissatisfied with the way Trump is behaving in the highest office in the land. But there are still many who support Trump, from news personalities to regular folks across this country. More than one would have suspected, given how the electoral college and the weight of that “silent majority” worked last year. But these efforts to combat the vileness of these people have one major roadblock. One that needs to be fully addressed by people who aren’t willing to confront it. One that these individuals will deny to anyone calling them out on it.
The reason Trump is in office is because a good chunk of this country was seduced and pimped out by the racism and fear they’ve struggled to keep hidden for so long.
Yeah I said “pimped out”. And it fits. What else would you use to describe how many of these people who threw their weight behind an amoral business magnate who has a lengthy and proven history have found themselves cast aside? Take the Carrier plant in Indiana. Trump promised to prevent the plant from pulling up its stakes and moving to Mexico. They’re now set to begin a final round of layoffs that all but point to that still happening. A woman who voted for Trump thinking he’d get rid of the “bad hombres” found that her husband was one of the first to go in the wave of deportations since January.
Even Omarosa Manigault Newman, the controversial pick for Trump’s reality show administration taken from the same series that added a veneer of polish to the crudeness he can evoke as a businessman, found herself fired(again!) in a way that made soap opera writers envious. And with this tax bill that is set to be voted into law this week by a Republican-led Congress, it’s been eviscerated by numerous business figures as something that will be highly damaging to the economic futures of many Americans across all sectors except the very wealthy — which includes Trump and these same members of Congress voting on it. Yes, the voting base behind Trump including those who had a dislike for Hilary Clinton and the perennially ego-driven non-voters got pimped out.
Think about some of the conversations you’ve witnessed in the past two years whenever politics have come up. Hell, think about these years dating back to 2008. The bigots have been getting pats on the back to fall into a sense of falling in step with white nationalists of all flavors, directing their hate at then-president Barack Obama. They’ve now been shown to be both on the right and the left, some of whom have joined the camps of those supporting Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein and have hidden behind tropes of economic class struggles to take paternalistic attitudes towards people of color and women to say “identity should take a backseat to the class struggle.”
At this point, this base is still holding strong. We know this because of some media reporting that’s been going on to the point of being nauseating visiting the places like the Appalachian region to get their insights. The fawning over the white working class that in some ways continues this exploitation that has helped seed their resentment, which some would say has continued with the publication of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. (Side note: for more detailed and nuanced exploration of the struggles in that region by everyone, check out this reading list.) But it’s been showing cracks for a while now, and nowhere is that more evident than on social media. There are many who have been vocal for Trump on platforms like Twitter and have explicitly felt deep regret once they realized how it affects them personally and the depths of which they’ve allowed themselves to be fooled. One main example of this is AreYouSorryYet, a site that collects the tweets from these voters and supporters in a before and after that’s best read with the loser’s horn from “The Price Is Right” on loop in the background. Poll numbers have been dropping with each new affront to government and Trump’s own public lack of cognizance of basic policies that the U.S. has been advocating for decades.
As much as things seem dire now, the facts laid out in the last paragraph point to a growing ripple of change. It can only grow when more people from that base get to the point where they realize they’ve been truly suckered. Yes, there’s been Russian influence. But anything that’s supposed to be strong always gets weakened from within, and in this case it’s been the unwillingness to accept and confront the systemic oppression that’s been the bedrock of the cancer of this country. And considering that it’s a cross-section of white people who have been reluctant and damn near petulant with their racism (that whole “it’s okay to be white” movement is like a store aisle temper tantrum times one thousand by the way), it means that some of you are going to have to take up the mantle of shattering their prisms of prejudice in order for things to get better. That means confronting that neighbor wearing a look of concern that you see only when someone Black pulls up to a house in the neighborhood or drives through. That means that mansplainer in your office who chimes in at meetings with women colleagues. That means actually having it out with those relatives you’ll be encountering in a week who drop little comments about Latinx people. It means calling out friends online who are willing to hop on your feed to partake in some “whataboutism”. It may even mean your mate. Or your child. Because this current administration has already proven more than capable of using them and others to be prostitutes of racism and fear. And the responsibility to change that lies with these people shaking those shackles off and standing up against such tactics.
When you have 63 percent of white women voting in support of an alleged child molester such as Roy Moore in Alabama this past week for a Senate seat, it can be hard to imagine that kind of change. But the outcry over the #taxscambill as well as the expiring funding Children’s Health Insurance Program(CHIP) could move it. If only a little.
All in all, it has to be said that this wave of resistance that exists to beat back the poison of the current administration is decidedly composed of Black people, Brown people. Younger voters. Those white people who find this government abhorrent from all political aisles. The LGBTQIA community. The undocumented. Muslims, and those Christians and Jewish people who stand with them against hatred and persecution. Immigrants. Black women and Brown women of all sectors, in particular.
They have to be supported, recognized first and foremost. They are the ones who are fighting for the America many have taken for granted. They are the promise-keepers who are beholden to those ideals that have failed some here, but have lifted up many. All of these people saw the seduction of Trump and his cronies for what it was for years and what accepting it could lead to. They are all the points of light that keep dark skies from being totally overwhelming. Make it a point to read up on the various organizations in and outside of your community and get involved, even if it’s just pointing folks to your favorite charity or local non-profit.
The star of hope may have dwindled a bit, but it’s still shining. One can only hope that it burns brighter to light a better way forward for us all.
Merry Christmas and may we all have a better New Year, and a better state of affairs in this country and the world.