Prior to this election I thought that this country would not condone openly racist, xenophobic, or Islamophobic rhetoric from a presidential candidate without some sort of deep economic depression or some other major calamity that could cloud the public’s judgment. Despite being fairly informed on some of the most shameful state-sponsored and tacitly condoned policies in US history, I thought that we had progressed to a point where Americans were largely accepting of diversity in principle if not always in practice. Now I see that this assessment was mistaken. It is not that there is more widespread hatred than I had thought; it is that there is a much greater level of indifference toward those who have a social identity perceived as “other” than I had imagined. Some evidence of this can be seen in the large number of voters who chose to back Trump for no other reason than the fact that they made an estimation that he would improve their personal well-being regardless of what could potentially happen to their fellow American “others”. However, this was not the group that caused me to feel betrayed and hurt. For just as I have known that there is a small contingent of American society that are out and out bigots, I am also aware that there is a small contingent of our society that is egotistical and has no true sense of community. The swaths of Trump supporters that hurt me most acutely were those who found Trump’s demagoguery offensive but still voted for him. Many of them believed that his hateful rhetoric amounted to empty political promises or unattainable fantasy. These voters made a wager: a wager made on promises without any semblance of associated plans and made in a time of economic progress, albeit one where non-college-educated white men have fared worse than at any time in the past several decades. That said, the black community has gone through far worse trials and tribulations and to my knowledge, they have never elected a an anti-white version of Strom Thurmond or Joe Arpaio.
I actually see it as preferable for the sake of cohesion and reconciliation to have a larger proportion of voters who supported Trump as opposed to the insider alternatives because they believed in a grand DC conspiracy to fleece the everyday working man. That notion at the very least can be chipped away at or confirmed over time with more transparency and insights into the Washington machinery. However, short of forced social integration, what can you do when the problem is one of indifference toward scapegoated peoples? We cannot recreate the manufacturing golden days of the post-WW II era or undo the terrorist actions of the past 16 years to assuage the underlying frustrations and fears that are being channeled into scapegoating by a fervent minority. If demagoguery is not a deal breaker for the larger right-leaning political body, this problem becomes a cancer that can infect all levels of government.
The seeming inability of minority groups to be seen as worthy of weighty consideration in matters of national concern is what hurts. It hurts because we feel we are being treated as pariahs and afterthoughts. It hurts because it defies solution. But most of all it hurts because many of us were under the impression that despite the imperfections of our legal machinery and pockets of authoritative prejudice, our federal government, and by extension the people at-large, embraced us as dignified humans if not full-fledged brothers and sisters. The dismissal of talk of rounding us up like vermin or tracking us like criminals without probable cause has injured that sense of belonging for many of us.
Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that should Trump’s worst threats come to fruition, a great deal of his once supporters will be moved by the injustices to join in resisting his policies. What I remain less hopeful about is that in the deluge of copycat politicians that are sure to ensue at various levels of government, there will be a sufficient enough opposition to threats on minorities to prevent a Trumpism movement from gaining momentum. I fear that it will need to come to an awful climax for my fellow countrymen/women to care enough to put this brand of hurtful politics to a halt.