TRUMP, A RANCID LEGACY FOR A RANCID AMERICA
Pinch yourself – Donald Trump have left in the White House. Finally, the biggest authoritarian fraud in American political history is out. How nice it would be to think that in the immediate post-Trump days, we would have a return to normalcy and decency in American politics. Sadly, that is not going to happen, far from it.
Trump leaves us with a truly horrific legacy in his wake. A country divided as bad as it was at the outset of the Civil War. White supremacists holding the country to ransom with threats of on-going violence as seen at the Capitol on 01/06/21. American democracy, its norms and traditions trampled into the dirt by a cheap, amoral demagogue. Racism, misogyny and frequent police violence against people of color ever more normalized. If it sounds horrific, that’s because it is.
Trump’s legacy is indeed a truly rancid legacy.
How could Trump have ever gotten away with what he did? What enabled his legacy to be so bad? While there are arguably any number of contemporaneous factors that fed into that equation, there is a bigger, more fundamental concept to consider. And that is that the history of the US is also just as flawed as Trump himself.
Every country in the “Western world” has had issues in the past that now causes heads to hang in shame and calls for reflection and a conviction to never happen again. The vast majority of West European states, for one major example, have long and bloody histories of colonial exploitation. For the large part, France, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands and so on have come to terms with their awful colonial pasts, coupled with socio-economic injustices, and then looked to move on. Indeed, each of those countries, plus many more, are deemed to be “social democratic” to some degree – with genuine structures in place to further social and economic justice, universal health care and tax structures designed to favor the many and not just the few.
Then there is the USA. It too has a reprehensible past, a particularly shocking one when it comes to the issue of race. Just over 250 years ago the widely venerated “Founding Fathers” condoned slavery, owned slaves and drafted a Constitution that officially codified black Americans to be worth three-fifths of a white American when it came to electoral representation. Less than a hundred years after that, the nation went to war with itself over slavery, an issue with race at its very heart.
After the country had shed over 600,000 lives to remove the stain of slavery from the country, supposedly, one would have thought that the US could move on from such discriminatory evil. Far from it. Post-Civil War, Jim Crow draped yet more miserable bigotry and racial hatred across the land.
Fast forward to World War Two, and as the US fought to defeat the Nazi philosophy of racial superiority and hatred, it had troops partitioned into black and white fighting men. Irony much?
Following the War, the US needed a Civil Rights movement in the 60s to continue the fight for meaningful racial, social and economic justice, something that remained out of reach for millions of non-white Americans. And then up to present day. Voter suppression, mass incarceration and police brutality are all part of being a non-white person in twenty-first century America.
How this travesty continues, especially so when compared to other Western nations, will challenge historians and scholars for centuries to come. There is something very dark in the heart of America – a shadow that has persisted, unabated and irrespective of protest, challenge and even Civil War, to this day. That is a poisonous history, a rancid history.
The US has been a deeply flawed nation since its inception (and in fact before that as a set of British colonies that happily oversaw the same racial injustices as the new Republic).
The Trump legacy is then a perfect fit for American history, as chilling as that is. Trump did not create racism in the US. He did though enable millions to be explicit about their prejudices by normalizing the abnormal and unacceptable. We all know that racial hatred has been bubbling away under the surface of American society for centuries. Trump and his enablers simply drilled into it and allowed it to spew forth across the country. Consequently, the stench of bigotry continues to linger long and hard in the American nose.
That is why Trump’s legacy is as rancid as the tapestry of American history that his appalling legacy will be woven into.