America appears to be full of white people who used to believe there was no racism because they had never experienced it. Then it was pointed out to them that they hadn’t experienced it because they’re white, and that’s a privileged position in western society, at which point they said ‘that’s racist. How dare you accuse me of not knowing absolutely everything about everyone just because I’ve never looked into it or seen any reason to.’
Their next step seemed obvious, the majority hewed close to Hilary Clinton because she seemed to be somehow outside the narrative, after all she’d worked for an outrageously successful black man for the better part of a decade and she was a woman, an oppressed group in every society on Earth. She wasn’t outside the narrative, though, because she still seemed to be part of the entitled clique of Wall Street enabling fans of the status quo. People of colour were being murdered by police, government employees, all the damned time for absolutely no reason and she did not seem to demonstrate any real concern about it.
Those who saw her as an unpalatable choice tried to stump for Bernie Sanders. Were some of them simply misogynists? Yes, of course, but there were other reasons to find her an imperfect choice. Bernie, at least, seemed to want to shake things up, to do something about the massive problems facing the USA. He cared about healthcare, about the vicious corruption unfettered American capitalism was falling into. He cared that the poor were so vulnerable, that people of colour lived in a different, more dangerous America. But then he lost the primary, and some of them just abandoned politics altogether, leaving it to the wolves, failing to recognise that, for all her faults, Trump was far, far worse.
Some of the white people backed Donald Trump. He rarely talked about race directly, but he did talk about immigration. He lied through his teeth again, and again, and they ate it up because the story he told felt so good to believe. ‘You don’t have to change,’ he said, ‘the problem is the Mexicans, coming over here, taking your jobs. It’s not Wall Street, or the Estate Agents who sold you sub-prime mortgages, it’s the brown people. I’ll build a wall and, because I’m a white man, will be able to force them to pay for it.’ Never mind his misogyny, or his probable incipient dementia, or his links to Nazis, he told them the story they wanted to believe, the path of least resistance. And because their generation had been told their opinion mattered as much as objective truth they flocked to him.
Some of the white people, though, some of them were even worse. Raised on a diet of entitled, lingering prejudice they seig heiled their way to the alt-right. adopting a terrible drawing of a frog as their symbol they began to hang out with the KKK and the American Nazi party. They listened to Trump, and their acceptance of his frothing nonsense wasn’t a dull acceptance, but an understanding of the sly nods he gave to them. Their diet of South Park and American military worship had led them to believe that nothing matters except force and they were going to take what the world owed them, put the people who weren’t like them in their place. the Antifascist demonstrators who put a stop to their march for genocide fought back when the Nazis came, and the American right wing went into meltdown. Some of the supposedly mainstream American right wingers began to suggest that Antifascists are worse than the KKK. The KKK has publicly killed almost 4000 black people in its existence.
So now the American right is fully on board with the American far right. The pretense of egalitarianism is gone. They sternly go on at the left to shut up about identity politics while they cancel DACA and ban transgender people from serving in the armed forces. It’s the perfect time for the left to fight back.
But there’s a void. A gaping hole where the democrats should be. Hillary Clinton’s supporters are still blaming the supporters of Bernie Sanders for their loss, as if the 2016 election is still ongoing. They’re still blinding themselves to the fact America needs to change, needs to do away with unfettered capitalism and deal with its racism problem openly and frankly. In the worst cases they’re trying to find common ground with the Republicans, a party which effectively no longer exists, a party which effectively is just the legislative branch of the Trump regime. Bernie Sanders supporters are still yelling at the Hillary Clinton supporters, for more or less exactly the same reasons, instead of trying to find common ground or gently convince them that they need to look to the future rather than refight the struggles of the past.
And behind it all, behind the long rallies with the speeches of sound and fury that signify nothing, behind the Twitter rows and the vast demonstrations, behind goose stepping Nazis and the shrieking Fox News hosts with the immaculate hair, behind the conspiracy theories, and the earnest pundits, and the floods, and the forest fires, just out of sight, the American police are drinking beer and the American rich are drinking champagne, not quite able to believe they’ve gotten away with it.