Donald Trump is arguably the most corrupt and incompetent president in American history. He’s without question the most incompetent and corrupt president in modern American history. From the day he descended the escalator to his comments on election night, he has been a toxic dumpster fire on the body politic. His incompetence and depraved indifference in handling the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is prima facie case of criminal negligence and is worthy of jail time; his criminality has ranged from larceny to crimes against humanity. As president he has not just been guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors worthy of impeachment and removal from office, but also treason against the United States.
Though we don’t know the outcome of the election as I write this, we do know that at least 67 million people in this country believe he should be re-elected. And they came to that decision in the context of a pandemic that, because of his incompetence and callous indifference, has resulted in over 8 million Americans becoming infected, the deaths of another 230,000-plus Americans, and the destruction of the economic livelihood of tens of millions more. Just this thought alone should give any rational person pause to consider and evaluate what manner of people are these Americans.
There is a myth that white Americans believe about themselves: the myth of American exceptionalism. White Americans have clung to this infantile notion that the country’s founding is a function of Divine Providence and they are a chosen people. They believe they were somehow endowed with innate goodness and immune from the evil banality of the rest of the human race. They believe that their sins are sins of omission and should be forgiven and understood as unfortunate missteps that are the necessary cost others pay for America’s Manifest Destiny.
But there is nothing exceptional about any people who would elect an obvious moral degenerate like Donald Trump and then watch the havoc he wreaked over the last four years – and still 67 million people voted to re-elect him.
This belief in the myth of American exceptionalism is akin to addiction. It distorts who the addict believes himself to be and permits him to be an active agent in the destruction of those around him. James Baldwin counseled us that not everything you face can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced. For the past four years Donald Trump has forced white America to face the totality of who it is. As recovering addicts are in daily struggle for sobriety, we as humans are in daily struggle to overcome the worst in us. White America is still in denial.
The Donald Trump presidency, and the fact that at least 67 million white Americans support it, has dealt a death blow to American exceptionalism, and nothing shall so become its life like the leaving of it. White Americans and their America are no exception to the vagaries that vex humanity. As Immanuel Kant reminds us, “Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be carved.”
Donald Trump and the white Americans that support him are the physical manifestation of 400 years of American history in real time. If you are a white American and the past four years have left you feeling enraged, fearful, overwhelmed, uncertain and exhausted, you have experienced some of what it’s like to have been Black in America these past 400 years.
On the eve of the election, I wrote that white America was at an inflection point. They would have choose between redefining what it means to be white in a multiracial, multicultural democracy or they could retain their white privilege in a neofascist dystopian nightmare. “Black voters are responding to this election like their lives depend upon it, because it does,” I wrote. “We’ll do what we need to do, as we’ve always done, not because we want to save American democracy but because we want to save each other.”
While you can’t be absolutely certain, it looks like Trump won’t prevail. And it will be for the same reason white mendacity is always pushed back: Black Resistance. In spite of the most overt voter suppression and intimidation we’ve seen since the 1960s, Black voters, like Spartans at Thermopylae, held the line. If Trump loses Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and with it the presidency, it will be because of Black voters in Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
I’m hoop’s junkie. It would really be cool, if just once, when the game is on the line, we could depend on white people to make a shot.
Mike Jones is a member of The St. Louis American’s editorial board.