Before I begin, there are a few things you should know.
1.) I am Black.
But since Black people are not a monolithic group, telling you my race really tells you nothing about me. We are a people of many shades, dialects, educational attainments, and hair styles. That being said, you would have stereotyped correctly if you assumed that I am a Democratic. I will very likely live the rest of my days as a Democrat, raising my little Democrat babies, with my Democrat husband. However, it is important that you know that this will happen not because we are Black, but because we are from Chicago.
2.) I am also a moderate. In fact, I’m a hardcore moderate if there is such a thing.
For the past year, I have tried to wrap my mind around the phenomena of Donald Trump’s strawberry-blond hair as well as his rise to political popularity. The shrewd businessman-turned reality television host-turned xenophobic Warlord who spews his own version of “They [the non-Whites] hate us for our freedom,” was never to be taken seriously…was he? Yet, taken seriously he has been and for months I’ve tried to understand exactly why HE is happening to America.
Most people won’t agree with me (for understandable reasons), but I’m not sure if Donald Trump is a racist. (Actually, never mind. He’s pretty racist.) However, I also believe that he a person who has become rich by finding and capitalizing on the vulnerabilities in people, places, and things and I think that is exactly what he is doing now. However, white-washed and opportunistic rich men have been seeking the Office of the Presidency since the inception of this country — so what makes Donald Trump so different?
The difference is that Donald Trump is a monster that we all helped to create.
The realization hit me during a long drive in afternoon traffic, as I listened to a sequence of interviews with Trump supporters on public radio. Dazing in and out through the gridlock of cars in front of me, over the radio came the expected litany of voices: A guy who self-identified as a “Redneck,” a gas station attendee in southern Mississippi, amongst others.
However, it wasn’t until a union worker from lower-Michigan was interviewed that my ears perked up.
Following the reporter’s voice-over which reminded listeners that Trump’s supporters are by predominantly poor and white, I heard the clear and soft-spoken tone of the man’s voice. With only a hint of frustration in his voice, he said something that I would come to hear and read frequently in the weeks that followed this interview:
“I’m voting for Trump because me, my family, my community, we are losing jobs,” he said sounding embarrassed. “I think he can help us, but if he doesn’t get the nomination, then I’ll probably vote for Bernie next.”
A nearby friend’s muffled voice agreed.
[At that point my curiosity was peeked.]
If this man was simply interested in going with the Old White Guy, surely there were other choices in his party he could defer to before defaulting to one of the most liberal Senators in Congress. So why Trump or…Bernie?
The truth is that we have all been participants in the polarization of our political system, whereas despite our common sense, we deem one party as completely right and the other completely wrong. We say it’s okay to dismiss one party as the Dumb White Folks Party after decades of being dismissed as the Dumb Brown Folks Party. We do this because we know that the pendulum of the consequences of political power is ever-so-delicate, and for four to eight years we cover our ears and close our eyes as we continuously repeat, Everything is fine.
Talking about how things could be better is like letting the church in on a dark family secret.
But everything isn’t fine and it’s okay to say that.
In fact, it’s incumbent on us to say it.
We can celebrate the accomplishments of our President without ignoring that:
We can praise the millions of people with new health insurance without ignoring that healthcare deductibles offered by marketplaces created by ACA are almost unaffordable.
Every time we miss an opportunity to acknowledge the real difficulties that people are experiencing in the name of not tarnishing a particular party’s brand makes us seem delusional at best and too ignorant to form our own opinions at worst. If we, the people and party that have deemed ourselves the “good people” don’t speak to these things — out of fear that it will make our President appear less consequential – then we leave a vacuum for a vile monstrosity such as Trump to step to the mantle and do so himself.
Today is Election Day in Illinois! Don’t forget to vote!
(…Just don’t vote for THAT GUY!)
Kay S. is a freelance writer and blogger in Chicago, Illinois. Her debut novel, Lotus, is currently available through Amazon.com, iBooks and Barnesandnoble.com. Read more of her random musings on www.kaywsmith.com.
Filed under: Politics