Who could have predicted it? Donald Trump: President elect? It sounds like a poorly written fiction coated in hatred—a feuilleton foretold. But it’s true. Fringe politics has gone mainstream. Like many Americans, I went to bed late last night trying to make sense of it all. Although Donald Trump’s victory was a narrow one, it was nonetheless clear, overcoming all expectations. By 10:30 pm, as I watched the story unfolding, especially after the fall of Ohio and Florida into Donald Trump’s column, I knew it was over. Hate and revenge have won over love and social justice.
Such an unexpected victory served to reinforce my opinion vis-à-vis the political establishment here in the United States and in the rest of the western democracies. A democracy that is shallow at best, extravagantly bourgeois with a complete nonchalance toward the disenfranchised—betting on wealth and position in society to reign eternally and shamelessly. During the campaign, in the wake of the resurgence of the Clinton Foundation scandal, Bill Clinton threw a lavish party at the Rainbow Room in the International-Council of Shopping Center in New York, at the Rockefeller Plaza, to celebrate his 70th birthday. The gimmick, of course, was to fund-raise on behalf of the Foundation. “Yup, that’s right; show ’em the money, money, money: Donors must give $250,000 to be a “chair” of the party, six figures to be a co-chair, 50 grand to be a vice-chair” (New York Post, Sep. 16, 2016)
As a treat to enthuse a bamboozled but glamorized group of Clintonites, Barbara Streisand, Jon Bon Jovi and jazz icon Wynton Marsalis were all to perform under the gleeful eyes of the Clintons—beatifically ecstatic to be at the receiving end of fancy gifts and lots of money. The mainstream media, then, took a blind eye over this compulsive crave to raise cash. It was an event that “induced cringes among some Clinton supporters, who cast it as an unnecessary show of excess at a sensitive time in the presidential race,” noted Politico.
Donald Trump: The messenger of hate
Donald Trump, demagogue and bigot, had successfully tapped into a long-held contempt for traditional politicians in Washington, and his vulgar form of xenophobia served as red meat for millions of White-Americans who can’t seem to free themselves from America’s original sin: slavery with all its bigotry and blatant racism associated with it. Having a black president at the White House was a bitter pill to swallow.
Trump, who makes no apology for his xenophobic message directed at people of color and foreign immigrants, had all of a sudden morphed into a Messiah of the last hour sent from Hell to rescue his endangered subjects on the verge of being overpowered by an increasingly non-White population. From Appalachia to the Louisiana bayous, this message resonated. Strings of redneck towns all over Northeast Florida rose in jubilation the morning after. The Dixie flag was proudly raised in front porches and was also emblazoned in the back of pick-up trucks. Their Grand Wizard now takes centerstage, at the driverseat of the world most powerful political machine.
Not surprisingly, global stock markets plummeted on the shocking news. Dow Future took a nosedive, losing more than 700 points in just a short moment, roughly about 4% of its value. Anxiety grew at the opening bell the next day. The Dow recovered slightly by the end of the day on news Trump might be contained.
Make America Great Again or We’re Gonna Take Our Country Back had nothing to do with the economy or health insurance for seniors or any other pressing need. Nor did it have anything to do with Donald Trump’s Republicanism; it was rather ‘Make America Hate Again’, a clear response to the country’s growing changing demography. Trump’s slogan revealed a deep-seated, long-held xenophobia against anything and anyone deemed different. Yes, the question of race CANNOT be ignored in the narrative. What White America voted for can also be studied through the prism of race relations in this country. It confirms the rise of nativism.
Barack Obama: one the biggest losers
Barack Obama was one of the BIG losers on election night after having to invest his entire political capital and prestige in the Clinton campaign. Playing selfish politics, Obama was afraid a Sanders’ victory would have assuaged his legacy, precisely because of Sanders’ progressive agenda. During the primary, Sanders based his campaign on an anti-establishment platform with a promise to break up the Big Banks, to regulate corporate greed from Wall Street and to create a government that works for all Americans, not just for those at the highest echelon of society.
The DNC political machine did everything in its power to torpedo Bernie’s chances, including purging more than 100, 000 potential Bernie voters during the New York Primary to ensure a Hillary win. The revelations from WikiLeaks were the raw proofs of how the DNC leadership conspired against Bernie.
Ironically, many of Bernie’s positions were quite in line with what Obama claimed to have stood for: lower the price of prescription drugs for seniors, universal health care, free tuitions for State colleges and universities, combatting systemic racism etc… But in REAL politics, personal interests too often take priority over strategic ones. Barack Obama and his top aids knew the campaign was on shaky ground, which could explain his desperate moves during the final days preceding the vote. His cry “VOTE, VOTE” had fallen on deaf ears.
Finally, I can infer if it were Bernie against Trump, the conversation this morning would be quite different. Hillary may be highly qualified for the job and may be well equipped intellectually to deal with Republican rejectionism in Congress, but the office of the presidency is first and foremost a political one. Hillary’s passive demeanor on top of her legal problems made her look like a disengaged queen waiting to be crowned, totally unable to connect with reality. Even on the stamp, Madame Secretary had to carry a teleprompter from which she would read her prepared message. A week before the last debate, Hillary stayed out of the public view for a whole week, presumably raising money on the West Coast, meeting with wealthy donors and leaving her surrogates to do the job while Donald Trump was crisscrossing America’s heartland and spreading his message of hate. Popular democracy cannot be trickled down. It always stems from the bottom.
A politician must look real and sound real to connect with voters. In the end, millions of Americans stayed home, seeing no need to brave the cold and the rain to go voting for politics as usual in Washington. Now Obama, at the nadir of his political career, will have to face an unthinkable reality: standing behind the man who, for 5 years, was insulting him through his racist birther movement, on the claim that Obama illegally occupied the White House because he was not born in the US. Obama will have to swallow his pride with a grain of salt when he stands behind Trump taking the oath of office. What a humiliation!
But there is hope. The anti-Trump movement is well alive as it was demonstrated last night when urban America rose up. Thousands of its citizens swelled the streets of major cities to send a blunt and direct message to Donald Trump: “We will not sit idle.” Was it a prelude of what is forthcoming?
Note: Dr. Ardain Isma heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies. He is the Chief Editor for CSMS Magazine. He is a scholar, essayist and novelist. You can read some of his essays on the very topic of Bubois and Booker T. Washington debate by clicking on these links: Clarifying Dubois’ opposition to Booker T. Washington
Also: Revisiting W. E. Dubois Souls of Black Folks
To read an excerpt of his novels, you can click here: Books
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