Two of these trends were globalism and tribalism.
The 2016 Presidential race showed the interplay of these two.
In part, Trump’s election was a rejection of globalism in favor of tribalism. When Trump led the Birther Movement, I concluded that he understood his actions reinforced racial prejudice that continues to hold sway in America, especially among working class whites.
Right now, tribalism is an extreme manifestation of attempting to secure age old traditions of white racial purity. So in reality this has become a battle between the forces of tribalism against the successful expansion of global economic and social cooperation with a clear preference for racial and ethnic diversity.
Am I happy that white racists voted for Trump? No, not in the least. But neither can I just ignore these groups. No doubt many whites from the upper rust belt states feel left behind because their factory type jobs have been shipped abroad.
What do I do with this kind of problem? I’m a confirmed believer that many white rust belt conservatives are dog whistling racists. Not just against Black Americans, but anyone who is not from their white tribe. So that leaves me with a couple of choices. One, I can spend the next four to eight years being a cynical liberal and complain about the racism among this group; or two, I can support efforts to help build the middle class anew, which will include people with whom I vehemently disagree. I opt for the latter, because I believe the more included people feel in our country’s values, the less inclined they are to act on their racism. My assumption is, when people feel they are progressing economically, they are less inclined to pick active racism over growing prosperity. In other words economic prosperity is a deeper value than tribal loyalty.
But vigilance is key. If white tribalists start enacting policies and legislation that discriminates in the least against racial and ethnic minorities, we will have to be prepared to stop that dead in its tracks. Citizens of Germany taught us a valuable lesson during the 1930’s when the Nazi political party won elections and started passing anti-Semitic legislation in 1933. From 1933 to 1939, the Nazi regime forced through legislation at the national, provincial and local levels disallowing Jews from owning businesses, attending public school, marrying non-Jews, practicing law, working as tax consultants, serving as officers in the military, serving in the civil service etc. In addition laws were passed requiring Jews to surrender their passports and having J marked in them, revoking citizenship for naturalized Jews, restricting movement, requiring the confiscation of all precious metals owned by Jews, and requiring Jewish women to add the name Sarah to their identification records and Jewish men to add the name Israel to theirs.
The Nazis started deporting Jews during this time, but as that proved not to be efficient enough, Nazi hierarchy concluded that a final solution was necessary. In 1941 the solution was to exterminate Jews.
The purging of Jews did not take place all at once. A law here, a law there. An exclusion here and there, and then gradually as the larger German Aryan population became anesthetized, boom, mass extermination was carried out.
I was born some six months before Hitler committed suicide and WW2 came to an end in Europe, and over a lifetime I have finally concluded that for as much as human history has improved, there continues to reside within the human character dark spots, which if left unchecked, lead to the worst of which human barbarity and evil is possible. With the election of Donald Trump we have entered a sensitive zone in American history. Tribalism among segments of our white population are emerging once again. Our newly elected President has heard those voices, and has bent a sympathetic ear in their direction.
Do I think a German style racial and ethnic purging will take place? I don’t think so. But, I will never close a watchful eye – especially since the leader of the Birther Movement is now in the White House. I will never forget he said that Mexicans are rapists. When all are asleep, I will stand on the wall as a sentinel watching every movement, every word, every suggestion, every piece of legislation he attempts to introduce that hints at restrictions on any racial or ethnic minority.
Words matter. And our President-elect’s words were filled with latent racism. At times he spoke in code. Or what he thought was code. Racists and tribalists understood him, but so did I. What is so pitiful is he gave white racists hope for introducing white supremacy. Unless he placates them, he will lose them. And because he must have them to win again, he will bend however slightly in their direction. That cannot be tolerated in America where diversity and pluralism are our greatest strengths.
If, on the other hand, he succeeds in strengthening the economic power of America’s middle class, and continues in building America’s global economy, I will be there supporting him all the way.