Samain Thanksgiving Moon
A fraught topic. It has become a canard of post-election coverage that racism and other identity based prejudices drove Trump’s outsize performance in rural America. And, there is no doubt that racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and nativism were part of Trump’s very cynical-and ultimately successful-campaign strategy.
But, nothing is monovalent. Each one of these diseases of the clash between modernism and yesterday played some role in motivating some Trump voters, maybe most of them. But, I’m not convinced they are primary, which is not the same as saying they are either insignificant or not very dangerous. They are both significant and dangerous.
How you define is how you solve. “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,” Albert Einstein said. If you have a desire to resolve the current political abyss separating the peculiar combination of the Pharaoh’s and the white working class from the rest of us, you have to decide what the problem really is.
Let’s get started on those 59 minutes. The hollowing out of the American working class has been underway since the late 1960’s. We have gradually worn away the American dream, first eliminating good paying union jobs, then creating jobs to replace them at the so-called minimum wage, all the while creating a knowledge based economy that relies on college educated workers and high technology.
Violent conflict between and among members of the working class occur over the distribution of economic resources: jobs, home loans, good education, accessible and affordable health care, housing and food available at reasonable prices. This is where racism and xenophobia get reinforced as African-Americans, Latinos and recent immigrants compete with non-college educated whites for a vanishing supply of living wage jobs. There are few such jobs now available to persons with a high school education or less.
It is in the political interests of the elites, which include most if not all of you who read this blog, to keep the working classes struggling against each other. That keeps them focused on their individual circumstances and on barriers to their immediate prospects, usually seen as each other.
In this sort of analysis then a major driver for racism, misogyny, and xenophobia is economic dislocation. If this is the problem at the heart of this recent electoral tragedy, then how we get to a different electoral result relies first of all on economic policy. How can we ensure good paying jobs, decent futures for all Americans, not just those gifted by the genetic lottery with enough intelligence and cultural support to attend college? There are many answers to this question, I’ve mentioned some of them below.
If we can become the ones who offer real solutions to this devastating economic reality, then we will gain the political support of those whose lives have been changed by them. This is not cynicism, this is politics at its highest and best purpose, resolving public problems communally.
Even if we solve these problems will the four horsemen of racism, sexism, xenophobia and nativism still exist? Yes. Of course, they will. And we must be prepared to fight them whenever and wherever they manifest.
That city on the hill Reagan kept referencing could be America, not Donald Trump’s America; but, an America rededicated to the proposition that all of us are created equal, that all of us deserve certain basics like food, housing, medical care, education, and that we as a nation are a beacon to the world, not Trump Tower.
The next four years will require our mutual dedication, time, money and influence. The clock starts today.