One Month Later.
12/11/16. We are a month past since election night. Fidel Castro has died. Trump is populating his cabinet with corporate cronies, white supremacists, bungling failed right politicians and pundits appointed to education, housing, healthcare. Melania has no plans to live in the White House, and neither does Donald, it seems. Russia is implicated and then accused of pro-Trump tampering with the election by the CIA. The CIA is aghast that a foreign country would orchestrate the rise to power of an autocratic right-winger. Trump is Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and he rallies the crowd to return the title to “Man of the Year,” even if it is a woman. HRC, like Gore post-defeat, may well be off hiking ala Live Eat Pray or Wild. She may come back with white dreads and self-discovery. Even so, a normality has returned. This is the United States now. We will still be fighting oil pipelines, the police state, education privatization and underfunding, ICE, capitalism in all its reaches, exploitation of all kinds. Will it be worse, or will it just be different? The lights are on now, the curtain is pulled back. The wizard wears a tall white pointy hood.
White Picket Fence
A classically American president already, Trump bankrupted with U.S. banks so many times, he needed to seek funding elsewhere. Like in Russia. He does not follow a traditional or predictable party platform. His touted policies feel disparate and incohesive. For example, he says he will both end the common core and dismantle the department of education, while promoting privatization under the guise of choice. His mother was an immigrant to the U.S., as are two of his three wives. All that he has given up to enter into whiteness, he still tries to recover as he pursues the American dream: to have a model wife in all senses of the word, to be wealthy, to build tall buildings, to be powerful, and during all of this, to have fun, be wanted and important, as evidenced by a constant TV presence and his own TV show.
The patriarchy, the white nuclear family, is the primary agent of U.S. national power. White women appear most held captive by it, as observed in their votes for an abusive, misogynistic bully. The plantation mistress may be above the others, but is always, always still mistress of the house, not master. Her power is contingent, is forever an echo of “you just wait til your father gets home.” Sure there are exceptions, but exceptions they remain, not the rule.
Trump in his way is a dreamer. A fragile and erratic narcissist with ideas of grandiosity brought to fruition, and so easily, by the misogyny and white supremacy of a young nation at the height of its capitalistic self-centeredness. A nation that desperately reaches for a golden era that never existed. Trump’s entrance into whiteness is not that distant. He picks and chooses an immigrant narrative that fits a bootstraps narrative; the good immigrant, the model minority. He may eschew the narrative of his mother’s embattled Scotland, while embracing his father’s German roots. Just as his family name went from Drumpf to become Trump, like so many “Americanized” or whitened names, upon taking control of the family business, he erased his mother’s name from the foundation, and changed it from “Elizabeth Trump and Son” to “The Trump Organization.” All of this distortion and erasure served the purpose of leaving him the white, male figurehead, the mythical narrative of the man who is entitled because he supposedly did it all on his own. In this we can see, it is not so much that Indigenous, Brown, and Black people need whiteness to see our humanity; it is that those who are white need to see their own.
The thing is, Trump is the American Dream. This is what the American Dream has been. One that comes at the cost of marginalizing those not of the white nuclear family, and those within the family who are not white males. Ultimately, this dream is constructed flawlessly, and the white picket fence presents the perfect border. This nuclear construct is the nation, with each father positioned to dictate his own piece of it, his own plot, his own plantation. The plantation mistress is still the ghost writer, the plantation master still the author of the story. Obama ran a campaign on Hope, and won. Calling to a different group, so did Trump. Obama did not deliver for his voters. Will Trump deliver for his?
People talk as if this is the end and not a continuation. As if this isn’t how we were living all along. It isn’t that the dream is dead. It is that the dream is wrong. It is that the dream as it exists and has existed is a dream that means most are left out. That the backs of the many must be stepped upon to uplift the power of a few. This is and has always been the dream. This is how capitalism works. This is how imperialism works. It is the grandest of pyramid schemes. Nothing trickles down but the debt and the oppression. We must dream a new dream. Or better, we must not dream, but wake up, talk with each other, and see for ourselves what is possible.
Strategy is Hope
Fear appears to grip the left. A better world seems less possible now than does a slide to dystopia. On the ground level, those who are marginalized and oppressed are fighting locally. There are too many directions in which to fight. What feels most true, is that while those in the U.S. fight with each other, we will not even know what hits us when we finally see the global fallout of international peacekeeping measures dismantled and finally blown apart, literally.
But there are pockets of hope, too. Can we really keep insisting this? Yes, because we must. The problem with poetics of fear, is that they are as binary as the despot who brews them. We do not really know exactly what will happen. And in reality, neither does Trump. In this may be our greatest hope and our best point of tactical planning. He may not be mapping out his next three moves, but we can. I in no way insinuate that this moment and the future are not serious and terrifying. But I do mean that this was already our situation, but more covertly. I am not aligned with those that condescend that this has happened before, and will simply continue to happen again, or that the trajectory is inevitable, the pavement already laid. I disagree. Each incarnation of exploitation and destruction is new. As is each revolution. And we will be resilient because we must be so, until the planet is destroyed and we humans with it. There will eventually be a time, a final time, that those who like to say I told you so, will also be silenced. If you believe in an afterlife, I guess you can be smug there all you want. In the meantime, I am going to be planning our next three moves with my people. I am not waiting around to see how it turns out. I am going to work on affecting how it turns out.