Trump is a Mirror to White Liberals
First, let’s get this out of the way: yes, I’m going to vote against Trump. If Trump is elected, additional harm will be inflicted on millions of queer people, Muslims, People of Color, women, transgender folks, poor people, and immigrants. I can’t stand by while that happens.
But “defeating Trump” inspires me about as much as the idea of “winning a war.” The best either can do is reduce harm. Both can prevent something terrible from happening, but do nothing to actively build the world we need to thrive and survive.
Yes, we must defeat Trump. But you know how when people talk about gangs they always say that gangs are powerful because they fulfill abandoned peoples’ need for belonging? Trump is the gang that we abandon our fellow White people to when we give them no visible, positive alternatives.
Trump is not the problem — our lack of courageous, inspiring leadership and community amongst the people we call “White” is the problem. Trump is simply offering to meet this need in a way that is more convincing than anything else we are offering. So the spirit of death that is animated through him will live on even when he’s defeated.
This is why I can’t enthusiastically get on the Hillary bandwagon. Moderate candidates like Hillary have been enabling liberal White people to delay this work of building new culture amongst “White” people for hundreds of years. Every time a Trump comes along, and a Hillary emerges as the “sensible” and “qualified” counterweight, it means at least four more years of us further delaying our homework — the work of looking in the White mirror and seeing what inside of us makes a Trump presidency a possible and even logical end point of American capitalism — a capitalism which is partially propped up through the inaction and silence of the White liberal.
What’s new about this year is that usually, the Trumps get knocked out of the race before arriving at the place our current iteration of Trump is at — within striking distance of actually winning the presidency.
I interpret Trump’s rise as, amongst other things, God speaking directly to us White liberals, saying “Look in the mirror that is Donald Trump. You, too…you help create him with your daily denial of responsibility, your attempts to blame conservatives, or poor White people, for his existence. He is everything that Whiteness was created for, and which you benefit from: division and hatred in the service of maintaining economic domination in the hands of the few.”
I believe that Trump will be defeated in a landslide, but I fear it won’t be because we are courageous. Instead, I predict that we will defeat Trump because his victory would force us White liberals to dispel our illusion that reform without dismantling the White supremacist capitalist patriarchy could ever get us to justice.
So before you insist that your fellow White people like me line up to shout#ImWithHer, I ask you: what are we doing to create a new culture for “White” people that offers something clearly better than Trump?
That ensures that our White children are actually educated, instead of offered a selective, uncritical simulacrum of an education that leaves us ignorant and at-risk when it comes to understanding the nature of power and liberation?
That ensures that our White children grow up to see their own inherent value as human beings, instead of teaching them that people are only valuable if they can produce $$$ for the market?
That ensures that all White kids (especially boys) are taught to be accountable for their emotions in healthy ways, so that they don’t end up becoming the fragile rapists and abusers that such privilege creates?
In other words, what is the new culture beyond Whiteness that we’re working to create, so we can offer a better alternative than Trump?