Personal Reflection, Political

Its About More Than Racism

The following post has been adapted from a comment that I made on social media (Google+), where I responded to someone who was expressing justified anger at the racist elements of the current campaign and how they perceived it impacting the white vote.  After writing it, I realized that it encapsulated my thinking on the origins of the Alt-Right (White Nationalist) movement.

I agree that racism is a part of the problem, but to lay all this at the door step of racism is inaccurate.  There were a variety of factors that played into white men turning out to vote for Trump.  Ultimately it revolves around the question of power; you see we have for decades promulgated the myth that expanding the power of one group, by enfranchising them or protecting their rights, does not cost other groups much of anything.  This is clearly false.

Power is a finite resource and for a century we have been equalizing the distribution of that resource.  Of course, the problem is that if we were to turn back the clock by a hundred years power was monopolized by white men.  So it is that as when we gave women the vote we lessened their power.  When we passed the Civil Rights Act we lessened their power.  The abolition of Jim Crow segregation lessened their prestige and their power.  It continued, when their wives left the home and started working for their own goals and advancement, again lessening their power.  Even if we had stopped there, the resentment would have been sufficient to cause a problem, but we did not.  We gave LGBT people the right to marry, started prosecuting people who discriminated against them, and thereby lessened the power of straight white men once again.

In short, for a century they have fought against the gradual erosion of the power and prestige in society.  They have raged quietly, and not so quietly about it, to anyone who would listen and most of all in whispers amongst themselves.  Each generation of white straight men inundating the next with a century of resentment, bile, and barely restrained anger.  Time and again they felt they were denied a voice and that no one represented them.  In their mind a country that was once exclusively theirs has been stolen from them while their hands were tied.

It does not end there, however, we can blame the white man, but there is plenty to go around. The white woman voted for Trump by greater margins than anyone predicted.  They chose to share in the angst their husbands felt rather than championing the cause of Hillary Clinton and feminism.  They too have felt the sting of losing power and place within society.  The list could go one for quite some time, and in the end we could lay blame at the door of each and every demographic.

In the end, it doesn’t matter that straight white men and women are the most privileged people in our society.  Their power has been eroded by each new minority or sliver of society that has cried out for justice and had their concerns addressed.  They see only the loss, feel the sting of diminished status, and hunger for more.  It is my view that this election was not lost because of racism, that is too simple an answer, this election was lost because of greed.  It was lost because one group was unwilling to share power with all the others and so it used the last gasps of its once great strength to seize one particular moment.  It is either the rebirth of straight white male power in America; or it is the dying gasp of a reprehensible movement.  It is up to us what happens next.

One thought on “Its About More Than Racism

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