By Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith,
I am really trying to figure out what is going on in America, and what will happen to America should Donald Trump win the presidency.
I never for a moment believed that Trump could not win the nomination, contrary to the pundits’ takes on television. I was furious that they could not see, or would not see, that this man had a platform and an audience.
Even now, some pundits and news people insist upon saying that Trump cannot win the presidency, but I believe they are wrong. Trump has a swath of supporters that is not backing down or backing away that we know about, but I believe his base of support includes a lot of people who will never admit publicly that they are rooting for him, but who are, nonetheless.
From the beginning, I was disappointed that so many people resonated with him. He was, and is, crude and rude. He is disrespectful to women; I was horrified when he characterized all Mexicans (the ones coming to the United States) as rapists and criminals. His disrespect of Sen. John McCain stunned me; like McCain or not, he is a war hero, but not to Trump. His parodying a man who was developmentally disabled made me sick. The fact that he says nothing of substance in his rallies is appalling. His arrogance at saying he will build a wall between the United States and Mexico and will make Mexico pay for it was hateful, and his plan to deport millions of illegal immigrants out of this country made me shake my head.
This is America, right?
His dog whistle language as concerns his feelings about black people is hardly subtle; his ordering his people to “get them out of here” when they have showed up at his rallies, and his reminding his followers that there was a day when they would have been able to take care of those protesters in a way that they would be taken out on a stretcher…was…well, really white.
But it wasn’t the fact that Donald Trump was and is so narcissistic and arrogant that bothers me so much. What bothers me is the blind following he seems to have, of both white and black people, who seem to think he can do no wrong. They do not care that he does not have any viable foreign policy; he seems to feel he will be able to act unilaterally and just …get rid of people or nations he doesn’t like. His rambling about how he will just sort of magically fix the economy has made no sense to me at all. He has made all his followers believe that he and he alone can bring jobs back to this country. They believe him. He is right about one thing: he could go out onto Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and his supporters would still support him.
The question is “why?” So, the white working class is angry. So…what? What makes their anger so different, so virulent, and so strong and so much more worthy of mention? Why is their anger more important than that of all the other people in this nation who have been marginalized? Why isn’t more of the country upset that what seems to be the unifying thread holding his base together is white supremacy, racism, in its most ugly form?
Why is their anger more important than the anger of everyone else?
Could it be that these people have found out that white supremacy loves no person who is not only not white, but prefers people who are white with money? Could it be that they are realizing that the phrase in the Constitution, “all men are created equal” really does pertain now, as it did then, primarily to these wealthy, white landowners? Could it be that, as they have looked around, that they see how they are no better off economically than are black people, in spite of their being white?’
Don’t accuse me of playing the race card. It is the pundits and the news operations who have made it clear that it is angry white men who are behind Trump in the biggest numbers. It is angry white men who no longer have the manufacturing or construction or mining jobs they used to have so they could make a decent living. The pundits are pointing out the fact that the demographic that is most responsible for the Rise of Trump …is angry white men.
They are tired of being “politically correct,” meaning, they can’t say the “n” word when they want. They cannot openly discriminate against black and brown people like they used to. The Black Lives Matter movement has been steadily dismantling their false confidence that the police take care of “the bad people,” who happen to be …”the black people.” The shootings of innocent and/or unarmed black people by white police officers, caught on tape, has shattered the lie behind which law enforcement has hidden for decades. Their officers, some of them, are being called to accountability. In this country where, historically, a police officer never had to prove he or she did anything wrong and who never had to worry about going to jail for participating in state-sanctioned murder, things are changing …and it is making some white people more and more angry. They want “their country back.” They want to “make America great again.” That greatness included free-flowing racial violence by whites against blacks and rampant discrimination; it included white people being able to have jobs when many black people were denied those same jobs. That America included having trials (and still does) where a black person could and would be tried by an all-white jury for a crime he or she might not have committed, and nobody could do anything about it.
That is changing.
And now, to add insult to injury, there are too many brown people here, brown people who have done the work for white people that neither white not black people would have done themselves because the pay is so low. Brown people in the form of Hispanics, and now, brown and black people in the form of Muslims…are all over the place …and some white people are not only angry, but they are afraid that they are losing the power they always had
These people believe that Trump – who sounds eerily like the Hitler I have read about – will make everything all right. He will build that wall. He will “get the coloreds out.” He will reset the American equilibrium and return things to the way they used to be. And that’s why they do not care what he says or does. They do not care who he berates or puts down. They do not care if he says one thing on one talk show and something entirely different on another show minutes later.
They want America back. Their America.
They began to mumble when Barack Obama was elected president.; their lawmakers vowed, even as Obama was being inaugurated, that they would make him a one-term president. While there were many people who believed his election meant that America was a post-racial country, there were those who vowed that this country would be post-racial over their dead bodies. That’s why we heard the cry, “We want to take our country back!” They were intentional about what they meant. And they are intentional now.
I shudder to think about where America is headed. If Trump wins the nomination and then the White House, it will be bad for a whole lot of people. If Trump is bumped from contending for the presidency by a brokered convention, it will still be bad for a whole lot of people, because, as Trump as alluded, his angry white people will rise up. He said, “I think you’d have riots.” I think he’s right. Trump’s supporters would rise up…
But someone would rise up against them.
It will be America’s Second Civil War.
God, help our nation.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is a pastor, author and musician interested in the relationship between politics and religion, and race. Her most recent book is “The Book of Jeremiah: The Life and Ministry of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.” She is currently writing the authorized biography of Rev. C.T. Vivian, a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. She blogs at candidobservation.com and you can find her on Twitter @.