Will Trump’s promised land stretch to serve all Americans?

The president’s victory speech may have been met with a patriotic, beating chant of “USA!”, but how far will Trump’s promised land stretch to serve all Americans?

Efforts to heal and unite the nation may prove futile from a man as divisive as Donald Trump. Contrasting the mournful seen at the depressed gatherings of Clinton supporters, Trump gestured widely to his delighted supporters during his victory speech: “it’s about us,” he flattered them, with vice president Pence nodding approvingly behind him.

With a campaign founded partly on the grounds of “build that wall,” who can expect entrance? What can “us” possibly mean in Trump’s America?

“With nothing to lose, there is nothing to fear”

There is a notable identity that has haunted Trump’s campaign – that of the impoverished, disillusioned, white voter. With nothing to lose, there is nothing to fear; with local industry and economic opportunity dead and buried in America’s so called “rustbelt” states, more of the same won’t revive it. Trump’s “forgotten men and women,” neglected by a system that no longer needs their labour, sorely deserve the hope of a fresh start. As in Britain, a distrust of the slick political elite has culminated in a demand for change – whatever the cost.

But to claim that the election was won alone by the disenfranchised working class would be far too convenient: exit polls point to the glaringly obvious issue of race in America. Nearly 60% of white voters supported Trump, compared to only 21% of all non-white voters. Black communities in particular could not rally around Trump, with only 8% of black voters supporting him. Voters were also divided on issues of religion, with all denominations of Christians polling as supportive of Trump.

“Trump reached back to a not so distant America that will linger in the minds of voters”

Trump’s campaign relied on one promise – to “make America great again.” It was a star-spangled slogan determined to resurrect an era of a strong economy and white Christian culture. Though he may be on best behaviour post-election, Trump’s rhetoric rang clear. Each time he rallied against Mexicans, Muslims, and refugees, Trump reached back to a not so distant America that will linger in the minds of voters – an America of persecution and white power.

Having won on the premise of an exodus that would strip America of its diversity and honour, Trump has successfully allowed white nationalism to take centre stage. When Farage talks of America’s ‘Brexit,’ this is what he means: the movement of white nationalism from the far right into mainstream politics.

“We cannot underestimate what it is that his voters want”

There is a common accusation that those who support Trump are just stupid. Some definitely are. But to underestimate Trump’s base of support is to eliminate the wide chasm between stupidity and racism, and we cannot underestimate what it is that his voters want: beyond the economic anxieties of the deprived rustbelt states, there is a sweeping segment of white America furious over the diversity that President Trump now claims to want to unify. It is no surprise that Trump was endorsed by a KKK newspaper, and it is no surprise that white supremacists are celebrating the results of the election.

A unified nation must be a peaceful one. And while Trump may have been elected on the back of “white-lash,” as political commentator Van Jones has come to call it, there is hope in the division of the United States: there are thousands of people who will not stand with Trump, or the America he envisions. There are thousands of furious people that Trump must now answer to.

“Donald Trump may have won the presidency, but there is no reason to make the job easy for him”

Many protests have broken out in Trump’s America, and it is naturally frightening to think of a country overtaken by protests. But in a nation that has become notorious for its racially motivated police brutality, where hate crime is already believed to have risen, and where the ludicrous immigration policy of simply building a wall was transformed into a battle cry, it would be more frightening if there were no protests at all. With voter turnout estimated at only 57%, now is the time for Americans to take action and shed their apathy.

Trump cannot become a bringer of unity. He is not the saviour of the Americans loudly and unapologetically protesting his power. What is important now is the unity of minority communities, poor communities, and those with the basic empathy to support them. It is important that Americans see the hatred around them and understand that it can be challenged – that it must be. Donald Trump may have won the presidency, but there is no reason to make the job easy for him.

Freya Whiteside

Featured image courtesy of ‘Gage Skidmore’ via Flickr. License here.

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3 Comments on this post.
  • Karla Buchroeder
    12 November 2016 at 21:12
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    I believe that Americans were sick and tired of the status quo where the elite wins any election that they supported in the past …
    this can NOT said about Trump… he financed his own campaign and is NOT accountable to anybody.
    Now that he has won he needs to get going and restructure MANY closed factories that gave Americans pride and work…
    Anything else is just so much hot air …
    Good luck America…

  • SF
    14 November 2016 at 19:17
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    except he DIDN’T finance his own campaign. America needs to become leaders in and manufactures of NEW technology… not keep the same factories producing the same outmoded stuff over and over. Bring back jobs by building new industry, not deporting the fruit pickers.

  • Todd Elliott Koger
    14 November 2016 at 23:13
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    Please stop this philosophically inconsistent hypocrisy. The daily protest in America’s streets because Hillary Clinton lost. Racial chatter from the media every hour on the hour, that is preventing “president-elect” Donald Trump fair opportunity to get started. Your madness is just further disenfranchisement of America’s most historical minority group.

    Donald Trump owes his victory to “predominately black Democratic strongholds of Pennsylvania who were convinced to give Mr. Trump 31 percent more votes than the previous Republican Party presidential candidate. African Americans like Todd Elliott Koger helped convinced 130,000 blacks in Pennsylvania and hundreds of thousands more in various other states to boycott our traditional Democratic Party vote this election.

    Mr. Trump’s “margin of victory” is realized when you combine an increase of “Obama white voters” in Wisconsin and Michigan voting Trump in 2016. Trump won Pennsylvania by 1.1 percentage points (68,236 votes), Wisconsin by 0.9 points (27,257 votes), Michigan by 0.2 points (11,837 votes). If Clinton had won all three states, she would have won the Electoral College 278 to 260. She fell short in all three.Trump’s victory in these three states was a big shift from 2012, when Obama won Michigan by 9.5 points, Wisconsin by 6.7 points, and Pennsylvania by 5.2 points. Although the national vote swung only about 3 points toward GOP in 2016, these three states swung by 6 to 10 points.

    Donald Trump had reached out to black voters and promised a “new deal” for our neighborhoods. But the simplemindedness of Hillary Clinton’s supporters and mainstream media is putting the needs of black America behind the needs of every other special interest group again. How many times do we have to ask you . . . DOES BLACK LIVES MATTER?

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