Trump’s Vision of America
“Americans are deeply, and for the moment immutably, divided by whether or not they’re nostalgic for what had long been a White-dominated country. Trump’s better-than-expected showing, particularly among White evangelicals, merely shows that he turned out more of the nostalgic.” (Milbank, 2020)
I was watching President Trump’s pre-emptive victory speech on election night, and I saw it again. I have seen it before at many of his rallies and press conferences. What did I see? I saw a room full of white people. It jumped out at me, and it was striking, unsettling. Several days later, I dreamt about that gathering again, and I realized that I was so disturbed because this gathering reflected a Trumpian America. An America where whites were like an elite ruling class in which an occasional token black would flit by like a spec in the background. In this Trumpian vision of America, blacks and other minorities had no significant roles, no leadership responsibility, and certainly no voice. It reminded me of what I envisioned the 1950s to be like. In my vision of the 1950s, white people owned/led mostly everything, and black people had a place out of view on a lower plateau.
It reminded me of a scene from Lee Daniels’ movie “The Butler” in which President Johnson uses the word “nigger” and the black servants in the room had to tolerate it because black people were an afterthought, a lower class and certainly did not have rights and privileges commensurate with whites.
The president has famously and often stated that he has done more for black people than any other president. I tried to reconcile that claim with what I saw in his victory party room and then mentally ticking through his cabinet and key leadership posts. I could recall one black cabinet member Ben Carson, a famous medical doctor—running housing. This 1950ish Trumpian throwback white utopia seemed to be what the Republican party and even prominent Christian leaders were serving up for me to unquestioningly accept.
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