Trump voters and supporters with an online presence have seen an unprecedented withdrawal of ally, non-homophobic, non-racist and non-sexist cards. The internet has also seen a surge in very us-and-them thinking about them.
Is this polarisation justified, or is it the left being the overactive, hypersensitive whine-fest everyone says it is?
I’m not American. But when that country sneezes the rest of the world catches the ‘flu. So I’d like to first cut through a lot of mitigating arguments that have been used to justify the choice Donald Trump voters made.
- The Media Misrepresents Him
Nobody has had to twist, edit or interpret Donald Trump to paint him out as a bigot; on the contrary, it takes more PR gymnastics to paint him as a human rights’ champion. “The media” can only accept so much of the responsibility for being there with rolling cameras whenever he opened his mouth.
- He Has Indicated He Will Be Everyone’s President and Wants to “Heal The Breach”
But his definition of “everyone” remains exclusive until he “heals the breach” by owning up to how it was his divisive campaign rhetoric that exacerbated differences.
He would have to apologise unreservedly, by name, to each group he insulted — for if he could name and put target marks on them while he was campaigning, he ought to likewise name and re-humanize them now that he’s president-elect.
Failing this, all talk about being everyone’s president is just that — talk.
He would have to also apologise for using vulnerable groups as campaign fodder at risk to their lives. For there has been a swell in hate crimes and threats in the last few days. We know, from #Brexit as one of many examples, that leaders’ words provoke action. Donald Trump has to take his share of the responsibility for that if he really means what he’s saying about being every American’s president.
By the same token, he cannot claim to be pro-LGBTI while appointing staff-members who are trying to pass laws that are known to be anti-LGBTI (or espouse them himself, as he has). Holding rainbow flags and saying, “I love the gays!” is meaningless if his campaign promises are to undo the rights they have realised.
I know such an apology would leave him in an embarrassing spot, but is he really willing to live with the alternative (the reign of hate that’s already underway) just to save face? This alone reveals the extent of his narcissism.
It also shows that that the things he says in the heat of the moment are bigger than his ability to take back. That says the likelihood that he’ll surround himself with a government that successfully keeps a lid on his temperament is just as slim.
- He Is Anti-Establishment
There’s a lot to be said about Trump’s importance as an anti-establishment candidate. However, it would be damnably irresponsible to separate his rage against the machine from his vocalised disdain of every human who isn’t a straight white able-bodied male.
It would be as damnably irresponsible to ignore, from the shakiness of his shaky human rights’ framework (and his readiness to use nukes to solve problems), that his approach to resolving the issues he and other frustrated Americans have identified will most likely be as shaky, if not devastating. Any idiot can diagnose a problem, but not any idiot should be called upon to perform brain surgery to fix it.
That American voters have chosen the deadly toxin that is Donald Trump as the antidote to the fatal elitism represented by Hillary Clinton points to a bigger problem, and it’s not just that Americans’ options sucked: it’s that in the broadest possible measure of what the United States now chooses to be, Hillary Clinton was the penultimate answer and Donald Trump was the only answer to her or the final answer itself. If that does not scream “back to the drawing board,” nothing ever could.
He been accused, believably, of sexual assault — a proclivity he relished in with his “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment — and he’s threatened to sue those who came forward with allegations against him. If he’s that willing to exert all that power in that context, then he’s likelier to use military power the same way. All that stands before that is who he surrounds himself with.
If this was America’s only way of draining the Washington swamp, I’m left wondering whether its people shouldn’t have let the establishment reign a little longer.
- He Hasn’t Got Enough Power to Actually Hurt Anyone
Legally, Donald Trump’s uglier campaign promises won’t pass overnight. But bigots have already been emboldened; they’re echoing his campaign rhetoric and taking it to its white supremacist logical conclusion. And he isn’t correcting them.
Why should he, though? Where others would try to temper his words about Muslims (“He only means Radical Islamic Terrorists”) he said he would ban all Muslims. He has deliberately pushed the envelope on hate. Is it any wonder the haters feel they have a champion in him?
- We Cannot Judge Him Before He Even Starts
Ah, but we can judge and condemn him out of his own mouth and stated intentions. We can judge him on what he has not retracted. That’s only fair. In a world where politicians are almost expected to do worse than what they have promised, it is very rare for a politician to effectively say, upfront, “I am here to make the lives of those already othered miserable,” but it is shocking that a number of people think he does not really mean that. Short of incontrovertible assurance from God himself that Donald Trump will not screw this up, the chances that the future is already reading about this moment in history books and asking, “Why did no one believe him?” is too high for you not to be getting sleepless nights.
And those are the only mitigating arguments I can think of to respond to.
Now, back to the original problem: why are Donald Trump supporters all being painted with the same racist brush?
Because, if you’ve been following the argument, any reasonable human being in their position should have foreseen that they’d be choosing the embodiment of everything we should be trying to evolve beyond as a global community. I do not accept that they were passively ignorant: they have been actively ignoring. He offers catharsis, but the price is astounding.
Trump’s promises to clean up the U.S government or stand with a class whose living conditions he’s never been immersed in are not only highly unlikely to materialise, they’re also inextricable from what is already being actualised — violence.
This is not, by the way, an argument against the legitimacy of his presidency. We can agree that if he’s who the American system ultimately picks — if President-Elect becomes POTUS — it is what it is.
We can also agree, as have a lot of influential Democrats, that he ought to be supported to the extent that he really does act for all Americans. If America really swears him into office, then he is President, end of story.
That is not what I am discussing. What I am saying is that someone who would take the initiative to pick Donald Trump is actually everything the internet says he or she is. If you press a clearly marked detonate button because you needed somewhere to rest your finger, you are not someone who needed a place to rest his or her finger: you are a bomber and mass-murderer.
The Internet will make you own that. There is no other way to make people come face-to-face with what they give oxygen to.
“But why all the anger and name-calling?”
Well, how else are people supposed to respond to anyone who openly owns up to supporting someone who stands to make their lives and their loved-ones’ lives hell? Offer tea and scones?
Siya Khumalo has gone from working on a book to having the book work on him. Please follow and retweet on @SKhumalo1987, thank you.