Last week, I wrote the first of a two part piece delineating just how this election result came into fruition. Now that we know everything this election was not, it is time for us to know what it was.
While campaigning for the State Representative candidate, I had the good fortune to attend a Republican Town Committee election party. As I walked into the restaurant in which it was held, I saw some familiar faces. To be blunt, some faces I wanted to see and others I did not. I came across two women who I had worked closely with during this election. As it was becoming clearer and clearer that Trump was going to claim the presidency, these women decided it appropriate to reveal their thoughts on candidate Clinton. One of them recalled the vice presidential rumors. The following words came out of her mouth: “Could you imagine if she had picked Elizabeth Warren? Two women in the White House? Our country would go to hell!”
Anti-woman. Trump’s campaign ran with an anti-woman approach and it resonated amongst millions. What is even more insulting, is that the approach did not disseminate sexism through the subtleties political strategists have come to master. This was in-your-face sexism. This was Trump boasting about fat shaming women. This was Trump discrediting claims of sexual assault while simultaneously parading Bill Clinton’s accusers during press conferences; using sexually abused women as a tool to advance his agenda. This was Trump asserting that women who had undergone an abortion should be legally punished.
To be clear, not all Trump supporters are sexists. There is a difference between being sexist and simply not supporting women’s rights. Americans do not wake up each morning thinking, “How can I advance women’s rights today?” I am aware of that. But, a line has to be drawn somewhere and here it is: You cannot vote for a man who proudly bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and support women’s rights at the same time. Millions of voters understood that. Sadly, millions revealed on which side of the line they stand on.
If you are still wondering what side of the line you stand on, ask yourself one question. Would you allow your sister, niece, girlfriend or wife to be alone in a room with Donald Trump for even one minute? And for the women out there: Would you feel safe alone in a room with our now president-elect?
The campaign crew I belonged to often met on a weekly, if not daily basis. One weeknight, we met in our downtown office; a place easily accessible to pedestrian traffic. There were two locals we had become familiar with. One of them was a white male in his mid thirties. He was an admitted junkie who stopped by about twice a week to ask us for money or food. We happily obliged. Occasionally, we grew annoyed with the man but only because he interrupted important meetings. Overall, he was a welcomed visitor.
The other local we met was a Hispanic teenager. I had gone to high school with this kid. He was once a star wide receiver but had evidently experienced some hard times. The teenager, clearly under the influence of some substance, once stopped in multiple times to ask if he could use our phone to make a call. He had been stranded by his friends and needed a ride.
After the first time he stopped into the headquarters, the campaign staff shared glances of disapproval. A worker went outside to accompany the kid as he borrowed his phone. As the staff member walked back inside, an elderly, white coworker asked, “Did he give you your phone back? Did he steal it?” She was as serious as this article
The kid asked to borrow the phone a couple more times. Each time the staff member returned to the room similar questions were asked. I recall one man telling the staff member to “check for your wallet.” Finally, the kid walked in one last time. He expressed how thankful he was for our help. Then he continued to say that he had been down on his luck and was looking for some positive outlets in his life. In the blink of an eye, multiple campaign workers got up and asked if he wanted to volunteer. You could almost see the foam coming out of their mouths as they envisioned the good press our candidate would get from enlisting a young Latino as a staff member. A few minutes ago they were assuming he would steal our valuables. They never made that assumption when the white gentlemen walked into the campaign office…
The most important question of this campaign is the following: Did Donald Trump refuel racist thought in our country or, did he simply reveal it?
Like most answers in life, this answer is neither black nor white instead, it is a thousand shades of grey. I feel comfortable enough to stop politically dancing around this issue. It is time we call the Trump campaign what it really was, an Anti-Hispanic movement. The man literally began his campaign by calling the vast majority of illegal immigrant’s thugs, criminals and drug dealers. In an interview with Jake Tapper, Trump brazenly assured Tapper that the American-born Judge Curiel could not do his job because he was “Mexican.” If you are looking for a textbook definition of racism, just reread that last sentence.
When illegal immigrants do not pay taxes, they are lawbreaking parasites endlessly draining American wealth while importing a culture of rape and drug abuse. When Donald Trump does not pay his taxes he is “smart.” The racism unveils more nuances as we delve further into Trumpian rhetoric. The Latino teenager who walked into my campaign headquarters was a delinquent who abused drugs. The white gentleman who walked into headquarters was down on his luck and in need of assistance; a gentle government push to allow him to reap the benefits of free enterprise.
According to our president-elect, and millions of his faithful advocates, Hispanics are the problem. In fact, they are such a problem that we need a physical barrier stretching hundreds of miles just to keep them out. I have witnessed that mindset firsthand.
“There are too many Muslims in the White House for my liking.” One of the sweetest old ladies you will ever meet randomly dropped that bombshell on me as were stuffing envelopes one Wednesday night. The statement was unprovoked. She had that thought running around in her mind and found it so important that she must tell it to me. It would not be the first time I had been left speechless during this campaign season.
The second time I was dumbfounded was when my sister came in to meet the candidate I was working for. My sister, an unabashed and staunch Democrat, was having a respectful and encouraging conversation with the Republican candidate. She was giving him a chance to win her over. She asked what he would do to help with the Syrian refugee crisis. The candidate’s response, “First of all, we’re not letting in enough Christians.”
Let’s unpack this. Syrians are being murdered everyday by Islamic extremists. We are constantly flooded with haunting images, such as the child who found nearly dead in a deluge of rubble. The candidate’s first thought: Let in more Christians. After my sister politely carried on with the conversation, she asked him to do more research on the topic. The candidate honestly remarked that he did not know too much about the crisis.
That is absurd. ISIS and their jihadist attempt to convert the world into devout Muslims is a mainstay on all news channels. Although ISIS is currently nearing the brink of defeat (something many papers refuse to report) stations from Fox to CNN routinely report on the related war crimes and tragedies. There is no excuse for anyone who does not know about the Syrian refugee crisis, especially one who is running for political office.
It is safe to assume that most conservatives have heard of the crisis. Even if they have stumbled upon it peripherally, they know that something bad is going on overseas. The millions who tuned in to the second debate heard Trump inaccurately declare that Mosul is already a lost cause and has been reduced to rubble. Make no mistake, millions of voters pledged their support for Donald Trump because of his stance on Islam.
The evidence of Islamophobia runs rampant throughout our culture and it in direct conflict with White America. Humor me by working through this thought process. Both white men and Islamic, Middle Eastern men have committed mass murders in America. When a white teenager engages in school shooting, we react by engaging in a dialogue about mental health and gun safety. When a Muslim shoots a night club, we react by encouraging vigilantism. Remember, the term “See something, say something” refers only to Muslims. America has yet to form a watch party which looks out for teenagers with mental health problems. Race and religion determine the way we treat law breakers and threats in America.
When a white person murders people or peoples, we condemn. Then, we remove the outlet used to do the killing. This means sending the person to jail or, establishing stricter gun laws. When a non-white, foreigner kills, we remove the person and condemn the culture. If that is not a definition of xenophobia, I am not sure what is. Millions showed up and voted for Trump because they feared a skin color different than their own.
I will end this article-turned-essay by making some last comments on the slogan “Make American Great Again.” A nostalgic reference, what time periods did this refer to? Many envisioned Trump putting our country into a time machine and bringing it back to the 1950s and 1960s. This was a wonderful time for America. Coming off a patriotic high from World War II, America experienced an economic high it desperately needed. You could be a butcher at a local deli and make enough to live a comfortable middle class life. Manufacturing jobs were abundant and life was good…
…except for anyone of color. Absent from this vision are non-whites. Economic success is limited and finite. There is only a certain amount of wealth to go around. Take my word for it; I have been studying this for years. Whites excel by keeping non-whites down. The 1950s and 1960s were a time when minorities and women did not have equal rights. In an America where browning is happening more and more, millions of whites (specifically white males) are feeling insecure about their place in the world. Ethno and patriarchic dominance is being challenged like never before. Many middle class whites just saw a black man become president. They were not about to let a woman become president too. For many, a vote for Trump was a vote for a status quo which no longer exists; a last ditch effort to cling on to a country destined to finally level the playing field for all ethnicities and genders.
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