Trump and the Culpability of White People, Specifically and Generally

(Note: This article started out as a series of notes I typed in response to a friend who asked me to comment on this article. They’ve been cleaned up but the rambling flow has been retained. Seeing how uncertain the future is in most respects, informal musings seem like as good a form as any for a further response to the election.)

Who’s responsible?

-One specific white person was too busy striking Sam the Eagle poses in the mirror (or during the debates whenever Trump was talking, to all of us watching) imagining how presidential she was going to look when she was presidenting instead of how to effectively canvass large swathes of the country. She was a creature entirely made out of money and girded by money. Only such a creature would think the approval of Lena Dunham is a major campaign asset to be sent around. Much of the scooped out middle of America sees Dunham (and probably most of the other bajillions of celeb endorsements Clinton rolled out) as something emphasizing how out of touch and patrician Clinton was/is. Judith Butler’s discussion of how the appearance of transgression paradoxically legitimizes the things it’s attached to from Excitable Speech needs to be looked over again by the left/center-left. If they ever looked at in the first place.

-The super-rich that actually bankroll these elections were, as the super rich have been historically for the last 100 years or so that fascism has existed as a discrete political ideology, perfectly willing to play out a hostage situation instead of a campaign. “Buy the magazine or we shoot this puppy!” “Elect the person we want or devolve into fascism!” Large portions of America went for the “shoot the puppy” vote, the only time in history that calling anything the “shoot the puppy” something could be considered a positive glossing over. But here we are.

When Brian and I were shooting Plain Songs, we asked strangers the question “Where do you see the US headed in 10-15 years?” A solid 70-80% of the total answers were variations on:

“Ha, like it’ll still be here” or…

“Do you think we’ll last that long?” or…

“To hell”.

When I walked through the “downtown”s of these places and saw one open Hardee’s and a Dollar General that doubled as the only grocery store, I could see their point-there’s an extremely apocalyptic tenor to our present culture. Our landscape is unevenly divided into urban spaces meant to resemble amusement parks/boardwalks and an everywhere else that looks well…like this:

trip-photos-400

That’s an original photo I took on the road. I’m provisionally calling it “Freedom Isn’t Free”.

-People interviewed in a Guardian article in the midst of primary season re: “My first choice is Bernie, my second choice is Trump”, all the respondents were airing what I’d call “accelerationist” beliefs-stated more succinctly: “give me full communism or just  fucking end this shit already”. In a poll conducted a couple years ago, 13% of respondents thought Obama was the antichrist and there was a 5% overlap (i.e. 5% of the total people polled) who both thought Obama was the antichrist AND voted for him. I’d be interested to see what percentage of Trump’s voters also thought he was the anti-Christ. If anyone knows whether there were surveys asking this, please contact me.

“…not the Anti-Christ we want, but the Anti-Christ we deserve…”

trumptacobowl

-Given the climate change angle, which unfortunately wasn’t focused on much by the candidates or the polling, I’m inclined to take the 5% of antichrist voters at face value. What percentage of the electorate actively want the world to end? What percentage were actively waiting for a “shoot the puppy” candidate? To what extent is this “not exclusively a race thing” because the electorate was set on dooming everybody?

-Why is no one drawing a line between the effects of Clinton’s “deplorables” comment and Romney’s “47%” remarks? They’re as close as we’re ever gonna get to part of history literally repeating itself.

More to come…

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3 comments

  1. I don’t know if the terms “47%” and “deplorables” are exactly the same thing but you’re right they have a similar quality.

    47% is an economic term. It refers to the half of the country that doesn’t pay federal income taxes. That includes me. I haven’t made enough money this year to have to worry about the Obamacare penalty. I don’t even have to file my federal taxes returns if I don’t want to.

    In any event, if he actually does have emotions (and I’m still half convinced he’s an alien space lizard) I’m pretty sure Romney hates poor white people as much as he hates poor black people. But a lot of Republicans obviously heard it as dogwhistle racism. They saw the “47%” as black people who got “free stuff” like “Obamaphones.”

    “Deplorables” is a moral term. Even if Hillary actually does have emotions (and I’m still half convinced she’s an alien space lizard) I’m pretty sure Hillary hates poor black people as much as poor white people. The Clintons have a long history of pushing the Democratic Party in the direction of white supremacy, culminating in the 2008 primary run against Obama. But obviously some of Hillary’s upper-middle-class supporters in places like Brookline took it as validation of their own moral superiority over tattooed, opiate addicted Joe Redneck in Alabama.

    I think you’re dead on about the nihilism of the country. A lot of people just said “fuck it. Let’s see what happens.”

    1. I meant in terms of how the electorate responded. In my limited interactions with Trump voters, the “deplorable” thing has come up more than anything else.

      1. Yeah obviously. Trump voters fixated on it more than Hillary voters (who probably forgot about it the next day).

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