For an overwhelming majority of American liberals, the point of ‘worst nightmare’ political demarkation, was last Tuesday November, 8th 2016. A day to be forever remembered as one of existential political infamy. Reasons for this are as vast as they are varied. Only time will reveal the full extent of the potential damage inflicted upon the United States by it’s throughly unqualified, hyper-charismatic, 45th President. Unqualified, just one in a litany of egregious facts willfully ignored by his supporters. Sadly, the election of former reality television star, real estate icon, and abject belligerent personality Donald J. Trump, is likely to add irreparable distortion to our beloved republic. History will remember. We will live through it. Donald Trump’s surprise, even unlikely populist styled victory over Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has pulled back an oft avoided societal curtain, to expose the stunning widths and troubling depths of the racial, socio-economic, and religious divisions that exist just under the polite fabric of our uniquely textured American quilt. Furthermore, it has enlightened tens of millions of Americans as to the thoughts, feelings and motivations of many of their friends, family, and neighbors. People that they thought they knew, and now perhaps wonder who exactly is it that they loved. The fallout from election 2016 has borne family members to be officially at ideological war with one another. At the fulcrum of this contention you will find a man with zero political experience, uncommon populist charisma, who carries dozens of bags/reasons to dislike/fear him. While juggling the almost hypnotic adoration of his base supporters.
Steve Bannon (Former CEO of Breitbart News) New White House Chief of Strategy?
Let’s start with the undeniable reality that Donald J.Trump’s brilliantly disguised campaign bus for the oval office was fueled in large part by a cynical appeal to base tribalism. As it turns out, Trump brilliantly, consistently appealed to base notions of deep rooted fear, using xenophobic rhetoric, the exhaust fumes of which were a choking mixture of bigotry, and wink/nod racism. His bus also sported a custom paint job consisting of a uniquely horrific mixture of toxicity called ‘Birtherism’, ‘Misogyny’, ‘Religious Persecution’, ‘Belligerence’, along with an especially understated sinister detail of ‘White Nationalist’ hood stripes. The populist theme of the Trump campaign was simply polite window dressing. The true unappealing nature of this campaign wildly skewed morality away from the influence of the better angels of American ideals. Over the past decade in general, and this past year specifically, citizens of our nation in addition with many keen observers from around the globe, witnessed Trump’s bad reality carnival show, paired with shameful, usually juvenile behavior. We all listened (ad nauseam) to his fear mongering rhetoric. The fact of the matter is that never for a moment did most observers both here and abroad, truly believe that this kind of man, with these kinds of beliefs, guilty of saying those kinds of outrageous, nasty things, combined with over stuffed personal baggage, could ever, in a million years, be duly elected to the presidency of these United States. Needless to say last Tuesday’s election results produced a myriad of moving emotional responses spanning an instantly recognizable macabre spectrum of shocking disbelief, concluding at the off ramp of instantaneous horror.
Seven days later, many liberals are still processing the new, albeit unexpected reality of an impending Donald Trump presidency. The fact that history will show that coming on the heels of the historically transcendent election of our first African-American and 44th president, that America elected our 45th president, a psuedo-right wing carnival barker with white nationalist associations. One step forward, two significant steps back. As a result, many citizens still quite woozy the next morning, feeling hungover without having ingested alcohol the night before, started looking around, noticing something about a few of the people in their lives they had either previously missed, or simply chose to ignore. They are slowly beginning to understand, to begin to process the who’s and why’s behind those citizens who actually voted Donald Trump to be the most powerful man in the world. They are at the same time, starting to question the potential consequence and real meaning behind a vote for Donald Trump. What does that vote ultimately say and/or suggest about the person who cast it? Let’s face it, nobody outside of perhaps an insane minority of the KKK wants to be labeled, called, or even considered a ‘Racist’ in our society. The implication being that most Americans consider that word and/or description to be an ugly, bitter ingredient that slowly simmer(s) in an indigestible soup, alongside similarly disgusting ingredients, such as ‘wife beater’, ‘child abuser’, and ‘sexual predator’. Being labeled a racist isn’t sexy whatsoever. The problem is that many millions of Trump voters are now vulnerable to being labeled exactly that as a consequence of their vote (support) for this man and his loudly, boldly, stated policies of social partisan division. The issue of literal truth, almost immaterial.
The ‘fairness’ of that assessment can surely be argued, if for nothing else but political exercise, however, what cannot be disputed is that Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, promises, and stated goals not only smacked of racism, but are widely considered by many to be indistinguishable from common abject bigotry in any form. This of course begs the burning question, seething inside the mind(s) of many (especially white) Trump voters, ‘I voted for Donald Trump, does this mean that I’m a racist?’. I’m glad that you asked that question, because I have some bad news for ‘Trump voter’. The short answer is yes, you are…at least kind of..or at the very least, ‘morally indifferent’. Which is almost as deplorable. I’ll take it a few steps further and contend that the most socially, and intellectually evolved of these voters went through the minor agony of having to play an unfortunate mental game of ‘Moral Horse Trading’. These people clearly understand that Trump is more than likely a ‘bigot’, and could probably be indicted on ‘white nationalist’ charges, if gun were put to head. These people are what I describe, label, and consider to be ‘reluctant racists’. A special class of people who understood that a vote for Trump was an tacit, if not overt endorsement of the charming man, with the seemingly racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, et all policy proposals, for the good, the bad , and/or the ugly. Then they decided to vote for him anyway. They voted for Trump and now collectively brace themselves for the backlash, pushback, confusion, and disappointment indicative of the vociferous nationwide protests that marked the first week after election Tuesday.
This moral rationalization included an honest inventory about how much the treatment and consideration of (law-abiding) illegal immigrants, actually means to them. As it turns out, not that much at all, especially when pitted against what’s important to that (primarily white male) individual. Besides, he/she doesn’t like the idea of these non-english speaking people flooding this country with crime, drugs, and disease, also making too many babies, burning through their hard earned tax dollars. ‘Screw them’. ‘Go Trump’. This inventory included an honest assessment about how much they care about the plight, treatment and consideration of their fellow African-American citizens, especially those that are being disproportionately incarcerated, and senselessly slain by police officers in alarmingly skewed numbers on our American streets. As it turns out, not that much, especially since he/she has the protective caveat of having voted for Obama in 2008, and they also happen to have a few ‘normal’ black friends who they legitimately have much love for. Besides, they really don’t like being exposed to young punk black kids, their saggy pants, and annoying music. They also believe that most of them ‘deserve what they get’ in most cases of police brutality/murder. They rationalized the proposed treatment of our Muslim friends and neighbors, including Mr. Trump’s plan to order the ‘ID-ing’ of all Muslim-Americans in a move that mimics Nazi Germany circa 1939. Apparently, they were none to concerned about it. After that, they rationalized the healthcare issue of their friends and neighbors, they wondered how important it was to them that 20 million people might lose access to life saving health insurance. As it turns out, not that much really. Trump promises to repeal the ACA with the consequence of the return of an immoral health system, while America ‘waits’ for the replacement. However, this abhorrence was not compelling enough to kill their vote for Trump. Somehow, common sense be damned, in their eyes Hillary was always going to be worse. When Trump’s well documented sexist attitude and speech, was accounted for, and his misogynist thoughts and ideas were considered, the Trump voter decided that it wasn’t an important enough consideration, especially when it slightly coincides with what he feels is the ‘pussy-fication’ of America lately. Plus, there’s all these gays getting marriage rights, and all that nonsense. This is not their father’s America. They’d never admit it in polite company, but they feel that it’s about time that women be made to start staying in their lane. ‘Stop the lunacy’, they thought.
Trump voter’s train of thought was interrupted at some point, but not before he considered his true feelings, motivations, and loyalties. He understood that he was, in fact, a Reluctant Racist. A fact that he/she will fight to the bitter end to deny, because after all, this was always about policy agreements, and anti-Hillary Clinton sentiment, nothing more. Trump isn’t really a bigot, or racist when you take into account the ‘liberal’ media’s negative spin, unfair characterization, and demonization. Besides, Hillary was so much worse of a candidate, ‘I had no choice, really.’ That woman is truly evil. Trump is just a little rough around the edges, and he sometimes says ‘unfortunate things’. These are the kinds of moral horse trading rationalizations that he/she can live with for the chance that Donald Trump can make America ‘white aga…, excuse me..they meant to say, ‘great again’. The inference being that America was great before, but isn’t any longer…because? Today (November 14th 2016) the Trump administration announced its first significant inner circle hire…Steve Bannon (former CEO of Breitbart News). The very same man who is behind that online magazine’s prevailing culture and authoritarian ethos of white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry, in addition to obligatory right-wing conspiracy. Bannon will now be ‘Chief White House Strategist.’ An immediate by-product and result of the moral horse trading engaged in by Trump voter. A moral decision easily among the most dangerous of our time, loaded with the unintended consequence of obscene potential. All this made possible by what I consider the most irresponsible vote in American political history.
The reluctant racist typically isn’t a bad person, in fact, the reluctant racist doesn’t want to be labeled as a racist at all, unless, of course he/she’s back is against the wall, and must choose. By the way, where was that bright red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat you’re wearing manufactured? The reluctant racist finds him/herself trapped in an ethereal, albeit grey space at the intersection of questionable moral rationalization and unappetizing political choice.