The November vote showed massive numbers of Democratic voters deflecting the party at the last minute, but for the watchful, the potential movement was seen well before. Hillary had little fight, plenty of experience, a weak administrative team, and insufficient voter outreach in base states. No one seemed to know that a backlash (some call it a “blacklash”) almost always follows major black political advances–and that the very same voters who supported the black candidate will turn against the white candidate that follows.
W. E. B. DuBois spoke of this divided consciousness, its strange inversions of logic and acts. Hillary’s quandary is best seen in an old joke from African-American folklore, involving Booker T. Washington, the legendary educator and spokesperson for racial goals in the nadir of segregation and lynching that existed in the early 20th century. Washington met a white man on horseback, the story goes. “Mr. Washington, I think you are the greatest American living today,” the man enthusiastically informs Booker T., who thanks him and replies, “That honor, I believe, should go to President Roosevelt, sir.” The man spoke immediately, “I thought so, too, until he had you as a guest at the White House for dinner.”
There has always been a double code, two standards of expectation and conduct, two expected outcomes from blacks and whites in power, and each group is judged separately. Booker T., like Barack, had filled expectations for the country associated with race. They advanced the common good by taking heat without returning fire. They stayed cool, remained calm, and took no heed of the acting out that marred the times. They worked and succeeded within the limits permitted. They earned accolades for their character and decisions, for their decency and deliberateness. But Democrats forgot the other standard, the standard for whites.
A big part of that second (white) standard in the minds of the legions of Trump voters is that support for an African-American outside of their domain and zone is tantamount to treason. Embracing Barack was inviting Booker T. to dinner. The blacklash was silent and swift.
Another rule of history shows the backlash is always–always!–followed by the rise of white supremacy. The cultural belief of white power triumphing ethnic coalitions, the cultural faith that whites have the right to deny liberty and freedoms to others is a political staple and has never left the mainstream. Trump merely amplified its message and reinforced his commitment through acts of violence at rallies that demonstrated his disdain and scorn for the murders/thieves/rapists/criminals/the global darkness/ethnic violence always–always!–blamed on people of color and differences of religion.
To win, Hillary would have had to campaign hard against these two principles of the white power paradigm. Among the candidates, only Trump understood the power of the racial dynamic, the pull of white supremacy. It was no longer discrimination; Barack’s election had proven that. It was a right. It had been taken away. It was time for it to be restored.
Tax cuts, jobs, NATO, China, Mexico, the ACA were political detractions. Despite the time and attention given to them, the pivot was done and achieved by direct appeals and dog whistles on race. But the new form of white supremacy offers a different, expanded vision of power: first, it is anti-global. This standard is brand new; white power was developed from and built on global domination (slavery/colonialism/mercantilism/neo-colonialism) for four centuries!
The most threatening and distributing of the new exemplars wants to do away with democratic process. It seeks to deny court oversight of executive powers. It bashes and diminishes public participation as a wedge dividing the country into winners and losers, into enemies. It aspires to bypass and silence any internal debate, esp. from cabinet officers. It does not hide its goal. Its quest is to rule the country as a “military operation.” Its paragon is total control.
Trump and Bannon’s white supremacy abandons ties to democratic traditions, disrupts the rise of nations across the globe and forces old allies and partners into submission. Its hegemony requires Booker T. and Barack eat in the kitchen. Both have no other place in this new, cruel world of fools.