Op-ed: It’s over for Donald Trump, but white supremacy not so much
Whether Trump’s departure means a safer world for African-Americans and other people of colour in the U.S. remains doubtful
In the end, it wasn’t that close. The margin of victory wasn’t as big as pollsters had predicted. But Joe Biden won comfortably enough.
By the time the counting in the U.S. elections is officially over sometime next week, the Democratic party’s nominee for president will have won the popular vote by more than 5 million votes and the electoral college vote 306 to 232. Donald Trump is outta here.
The only question now is who’s going to remove his sorry ass from the White House? He’s threatened to barricade himself inside the Oval Office, according to word floating among his supporters on the internet. Next thing you know he’ll be leaving his piss in a bottle outside for staff to dispose of. With Trump you never know, such is the depth of the parody that his presidency has become.
So what do you do when the sitting president tries to steal an election? The Sergeant at Arms of the White House may have to serve The Donald with a trespass notice.
Thousands of Americans spilled into the streets in impromptu celebrations to mark the slaying of the monster when it was announced just before noon on Saturday that Biden had the requisite 270 electoral college votes needed to win. The sense of relief was palpable in the U.S. – indeed, in the world.
The soon-to-be-former president, unwilling to concede defeat (surprise, surprise) is plotting his revenge, filing a slew of rinky-dink legal challenges that don’t have a prayer of succeeding but will give his base fuel to keep the fires of white supremacy burning.
That Trump has become a laughingstock seems to be apparent to all save the man himself. It was bound to end badly. As he claimed a “major fraud” to rob him of the election, the news networks cut him off one by one.
Media that had been reluctant to call out the president’s BS during his four years in office sensed what the world has – that we no longer have to endure the delusional prattlings of a pathological liar.
Trump’s tantrum post-election – “I was robbed” – has cemented in the minds of TV execs (even his friends at Fox) that he simply can’t be taken seriously anymore. The circus is over.
But Trumpism, the moniker given his brand of populism (which smells more like nationalism actually) remains very much alive and as vile as ever south of the border.
The self-described “deplorables” Trump gave licence to, are not going to crawl back under the rocks they came out from under. They’re here to keep stoking the fires of white supremacy, primed for a possible return of Trump in 2024.
It’s nonsense, of course. Trump will be pushing 80 by then – maybe even in jail. Manhattan prosecutors are still after the president’s tax returns (remember those?) to determine if he falsified records to cover up hush money paid to porn star/Playboy model Stormy Daniels. You can’t make this stuff up.
“We Are Finally Getting Rid Of Him” proclaimed New York Times opinion page editor Michelle Goldberg, who wrote the book on right-wing evangelical culture in the U.S. that has cast Trump as its messiah.
But whether Trump’s departure means a safer world for Black Americans and other people of colour in the U.S. remains doubtful.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has signalled his intentions to hold up Democratic reforms. There’s also talk of Trump’s sons running for congressional seats in 2022.
Trumpism has unleashed a torrent of racist and anti-Muslim sentiment stateside. That reality was reflected in the voting with Trump getting slightly more support than last time.
Despite a record of race-baiting and dalliances with far-right groups pushing death-cult conspiracy theories, Trump had a 15-point advantage among white voters over Biden. His 46-point deficit among people of colour was actually a few percentage points lower this election than last – thanks mostly to the support of Latino and African-American males.
Facebook and Twitter and Youtube had something to do with that. The social media platforms have replaced network news as gauges of public opinion.
But Trump’s “America First” brand of nationalism is not only etched in the fabric of the country, it’s spreading throughout the planet.
Rob Goodman, an associate professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University, says Trumpism is part of a “global realignment” of right-wing politics towards authoritarianism.
Trump’s brand of populism is unique only in that he’s managed to attract a different cross-section of votes that includes working-class whites.
Trumpism has already radicalized our politics with the emergence of Wexit out West and the “freedom” rhetoric of the People’s Party, not to mention Quebec with its mishandling of the pandemic and legislation to ban religious symbols.
Now, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole is stealing another page from Trump’s playbook, waxing philosophically in recent social media spots about his father’s working-class roots at GM and how the Cons are the real party of working people.
It’s part of a reframing, says Goodman, of the Left and centre-left, with their more educated supporters, as “elites” and all the conflict that entails.
Like the U.S., our country has also seen an exponential rise in hate crimes and racially-motivated attacks even before the pandemic. Online there are more Trump-inspired hate groups in Canada than ever before. It’s no coincidence. The National Council of Canadian Muslims has joined other groups in calling for a national action plan “to dismantle active white supremacist groups in Canada,” which now number some 300. That’s three times more than a few short years ago. The urgency of the situation and what that means for the future political landscape in Canada is not lost on the current Liberal government. The NCCM and other representatives met with the PM and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair this week.
Also this week, Quebec and Alberta refused to take part in a meeting of provincial and territorial governments on human rights. The virtual meeting, which was organized by Amnesty International, plans to issue a joint statement condemning systemic racism.
Biden’s win may have saved us from falling further down the rabbit hole of authoritarianism. But after four years in office, Trump has irreversibly poisoned the political discourse. Like the coronavirus, the infection is here to stay for some time.