The victory of Donald Trump was credited to his campaign hearing the pain of white working men. That demographic was not the only group to vote for Trump, but their supposed pain over their economic situation is not hard to believe or understand.
Since the election, however, there has been a serious lack of desire and willingness to understand the feelings of “the losers.” Yes, there has been and is great disappointment; that always happens when one loses, but bigger than that, there is a general feeling of despair, depression and hopelessness.
Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign was hate-filled. He railed against immigrants (his supporters will say it was only illegal immigrants, but many immigrants in general were offended by his words), he revealed his sexism, he berated and made fun of a man with a physical handicap, he called people names, and more. He was a bully, a proud, arrogant, privileged, white, male bully and his people loved it.
Others, though, did not like it. They did not attribute it to mere politics. To many, Trump’s verbiage revealed the soul, the spirit and the ugliness of America. He made it clear that he wanted to “make America great again.” He did not care that when he asked Stephen Bannon, for example, to head his campaign that the selection of a man who represented the so-called “alt-right” was threatening and troubling to people who feel that the alt-right is racist to its core.
When Trump won, the “other masses,” not white working class men, but women, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, immigrants …felt like they had been hit – not by Trump but by the American masses – with a steel ball. They felt like all of the work they had done to get marginalized people fairer representation in this country was for nothing. If they were reading and hearing Trump correctly, they understood that what he intended to do was take America “back” to a place when they were kept in their place as wealthy, white men grabbed again to the horns of power.
While “the other masses” have mourned, racial violence has spiked. White victors, including Richard Spencer, an avowed white supremacist, have gloated, saying that “white America,” “white men,” won.
Those words are like knives cutting into the souls of people who have been fighting white supremacy all their lives.
To this day, the prevalent feeling of many is not “sour grapes” because Trump won, but ta familiar feeling of hopelessness. Many people are clinically depressed. The victories gotten have been hard-fought and hard-won, and to think that those changes will possibly be wiped out by this man and his administration is daunting.
Some people have sunk into their despair. “Why even try anymore,” asked a young man at a candlelight vigil for environmental justice. Another person distressed about the suppression of voting rights by the Republicans before and during the campaign, said that the suppression will only continue under the new administration.
“All that fighting and suffering to get black people the right to vote …and now, this,” she said. “I…am tired.”
The Rev. William Barber has said, as have a slew of Progressive preachers and pastors, that “standing down” in light of this new president is not an option. Mourning at the thought of what seems like useless efforts is normal, but just giving up is not the answer.
Those who have been fighting must continue to fight …and must bring others along with them.
It is ironic that the new administration can identify with the pain of white working men, but has said basically nothing about all of the other groups who are not only hurting now but who have been hurting because of America’s racism, sexism and economic policies which benefit only a small few. It is troubling that his new cabinet seems to be made up of white men who have done well in this capitalistic country without much regard for the poor and struggling.
The message that many hear is that it only the struggling of the white working class that matters.
Time will tell what this president will to for the masses of suffering who are not white. Time will tell how immigrants will fare, how urban children will fare with a person heading up his education department who doesn’t seem to much care for public education. Time will tell how black and brown people will fare as they are continually affected by state-sanctioned violence, and how women will fare if the U.S. Supreme Court is stacked with justices who care little for the rights of women, even as they bleed for the rights of unborn babies.
So much is on the line; so many are standing on that line, and this administration seems not to notice or care.
Whenever a group or an individual feels unaffirmed, unimportant, disposable – they grow within them a deep pain that often turns to resentment and sometimes to violence. That is the pain Trump picked up in the white working men. What he and his administration do not see or care to think about is that that same pain is brewing in the souls of a lot of people who are not white but who, like their white brothers and sisters, are not working, either.
Pain is not black or white; it is not Republican or Democrat; it is not Right or Left; it is not Conservative or Liberal.
It is simply human pain, and pain, unattended, causes problems.
It would be nice if some of the Trump people would acknowledge that there is a lot more at stake than the bruised feelings of working white men, but I don’t suppose they ever will.
And it is because so many of them won’t acknowledge that that the predominant pain of those who did not want Trump (and many did not want Hillary, either) is pain, depression, hopelessness and despair.
Can a nation truly be great if so many are in despair? I think not.
A candid observation ….