It’s time to Break It Down!
Charles Blow is a noted journalist, commentator, and currently a visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He is one of my favorite writers and speakers on a variety of subjects that include diversity and inclusion, recalcitrant exclusion, and all things Trump related. I readily confess he’s one of only two people whose tweets I follow daily. The other, just for the record is Eugene Scott, Harvard University Kennedy School graduate, a fellow alumnus of the University of North Carolina, and reporter for the Washington Post, covering identity politics. Mr. Scott is also an Alpha, so that makes him golden with me. But I digress.
Last Friday The New York Times published an Opinion written by Mr. Blow, entitled, “The Lowest White Man.” The title is predicated upon the words of our 36th President. Blow noted, “As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Trump’s supporters are saying to us, screaming to us, that although he may be the “lowest white man,” he is still better than Barack Obama, the “best colored man.” I could end this post right there. That’s a drop the mic revelation/conclusion. But I have more ground to cover.
While I have made those same assertions repeatedly, and for quite some time, I derive great satisfaction from the fact one of the more thoughtful and incisive journalists with which I am familiar has solved this downward spiraling vicious cycle of an equation and arrived at the same determination. The terse reality is this is no great secret. I have addressed the elephant in the room before. Yet, too many people with every reason to know better simply refuse…to admit it, to say it, or to concede that they even believe it.
As Blow posits, Trump is the manifestation of white folks inherent right to be wrong…and to still be right. In other words, he is the embodiment of the unassailability of the twin demons, white power and white privilege. To give up on Trump at this stage of the game would be the equivalent of abandoning the implicit deal America has made with white citizens from Jump Street. Our government will assist in underwriting white safety and success, even at the expense of other people in this country, e.g., Native Americans, African Americans, or new immigrants.
Of course, if you’re not a rookie in America, you know this is not a new ballgame. The concept of elevating the lowest white man over those more qualified and/or deserving did not start as a construct in Lyndon Johnson’s mind. Nor will it end with the various expressions of Donald Trump. No, it’s woven into the very fabric of the Stars and Stripes.
When Trump declared that he was on a mission to make America Great Again, the perked-up ears of his would be constituency heard, “make America the once and again proud haven for all white people.” Now just to be clear, this clarion call did and does not resonate with every single person who happens to be white. But for those for whom it does, it was and still is as powerful and irresistible as the Siren Song was to Odysseus.
I have friends who lurk, assiduously searching for each and every clue that the spell will soon be broken, and Trump’s Borg-like following will be as history, a thing of the past. They’ve tried everything, from imagining what the State of the Union would be if President Obama had said or done a fraction of the maddeningly absurd litany of miscreant infractions for which Trump is responsible, to enumerating and regularly updating the list of his atrocious behavior.
When Barack Obama was elected President, a significant number of people permitted themselves to believe his becoming Commander-in-Chief ushered America into a post-racial age. We know clearly by now, such was definitely not the case. In fact, it was just the opposite. Through no fault of his own, Obama instantly became the touchstone, a galvanizing element for a determined and pervasive opposition.
A group of leaders among GOP bosses convened on the evening of Obama’s first day in office. Robert Draper delineated details in his book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.” This was early evidence, but only a tip of the iceberg detail. At least 14 of the era’s most elite level Republicans, including House Members Eric Cantor (VA), Kevin McCarthy (CA), Paul Ryan (WI), Pete Sessions (TX), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Pete Hoekstra (MI), and Dan Lungren (CA), along with Senators Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ), Tom Coburn (OK), John Ensign (NV), and Bob Corker (TN). The non-lawmakers in the room included Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Frank Luntz, a longtime GOP wordsmith. Notable among the absent were Senator Mich McConnell (KY), John Boehner (OH), whom Draper wrote, had acrimonious relationships with Luntz. They met for several hours in the Caucus Room, a high-end D.C. establishment, and plotted ways to not only regain political power, but to block every legislative initiative Obama would eventually propose.
But that’s not all. The Tea Party movement sprung up as a response to Obama and his proposal to provide financial assistance to bankrupt homeowners. One of the major forces behind the initiative was an organization known as Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group funded by David Koch.
And then there were the populists who argue even today that Obama was the primordial cause of all our nation’s ills. They churn out memes attacking, belittling, and demonizing Obama, and naturally, in praise of Trump. It’s what they do.
Perhaps, more than all the other factors, Donald Trump’s fixation on Birtherism sealed his support with a big fat Judas kiss. That solitary act alone catapulted him to the zenith of Republican Primary contestants; a lead he never came close to losing. He survived allegations of sexual harassment, admitting on tape to female genital grabbing, saying on camera a woman was bleeding from her…whatever, proclaiming John McCain was not a war hero, and a host of other faux pas, any one of which would have sank virtually any other candidate’s chances at becoming the nominee of a major political party.
With positions like those above taking root, it’s fairly easy to see how the road for Trump’s rise was paved. However, as Newton’s Third Law attests, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The resulting application of this Newtonian Law was the “Resistance.” Thousands of people gathered in cities across the country and around the world to give voice to protest over Trump’s election. Due to this reaction, those who support Mr. Trump, paradoxically, view Trump as some sort of victim. They fail to see what they self-righteously deem Trump Derangement Syndrome, as an organic response to all the myriad diabolical measures they took against Mr. Obama. They take absolutely no responsibility for their role in the downward spiraling vicious cycle I referenced earlier. Take a look around. There is nowhere to go, but down.
That brings us back to Johnson’s lowest white man aphorism. Or, as I dubbed this post, “The Law of Unintended Consequences: From Obama to the Precipice of Armageddon!”
I’m done; holla back!
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