While votes are tabulated in the remaining states, whether Joe Biden wins or Donald Trump is reelected, the 2020 presidential election evidences many things. Among them, it reveals a country sadly divided in groups with diametrically opposed visions in the ideological realm, as well as in priorities for public policies, nuanced by an identity war among those who long for white domination and those who form and embrace the diversity of this nation.
Essentially, that long and intense night of November 3 became a numerical abyss in which, one by one, the votes of both groups went on reflecting a disdain for national unity and an irremediable anxiety, upon seeing how the common sense needed to save this country was being set aside in the least expected way, immediately adding scenes of unexpected social repercussions to the collective imagination.
A few days ago we wrote that if Trump retains the presidency, the question would be what this says about this society. And it turns out that now the teachings are vast, in just a night and one day, in which the future of the United States is literally being decided.
Therefore, even if Trump is not reelected, the fact that 67 million U.S. citizens supported him, including a large swath of Latinos who came out to celebrate and applaud an election that has not even yielded definitive results, leaves it more than clear that Trump is not an aberration himself, but a reflection and a product of a sector of U.S. society that now elevates him and apparently agrees with the hate speech, which has stirred up what was surely always in the background.
The fact that this has occurred after the presidency of the African-American Barack Obama is because, for eight years, this group was like a pressure cooker waiting for a Messiah who represents them in their fight for “the identity of the nation.” It’s not unusual to hear every so often one of Trump’s followers say “God sent him,” levying a type of “sainthood” on he who is the master of lies, infidelity, verbal abuse, cruelty, xenophobia, and racism. What type of religious belief could sustain a person like that? That question also speaks volumes about this part of society.
In years past, the response to Trump’s excesses, racism, and xenophobia was that he does not represent “U.S. values.” It was even said that his insistence on repeating his rude and incendiary rhetoric about minorities was going to be counterproductive and lessen the power of his movement. But, surprise surprise, the voting shows that he does represent the “values” of a sector of the United States, of that half of voters who blindly support Trump despite his lies, his cheating, his tax evasion, his xenophobia, and his racism, in addition to his disdain for human life in the midst of a pandemic. “It is what it is,” like he said referring to the overwhelming reality of the death toll from COVID-19, a phrase that will be added to the list of grievances against his own people, but that right now even his supporters are overlooking.
If the perception exists that the economy is doing well, although many may be unemployed, cannot pay their bills or do not have health insurance, none of this matters to them, because Trump is their shield in the culture war they are engaged in based on their fears and prejudices. That is the real crux of so much anger against “the other,” and in the throes of this insurmountable reality based on prejudice, the country that used to serve as an example sinks lowers and lower in the eyes of the world.
What is incredible is that this group does not only include white people, but also Latinos and African-Americans who discriminate against their own. And they have been so useful in this xenophobic crusade, that surely it doesn’t take much for them to understand why they will not be included in the other world that Trump, his family, and his cronies occupy, when this is all over.
While the chips fall where they may, we have to get used to the fact that this “other” group includes our neighbors, family members, or acquaintances and that, as their leader, they do not mind intimidating those who they consider their political enemies. We see this already in social networks, on calls with a mocking tone, in messages full of irony or fundamentalist rhetoric that takes one’s breath away.
Meanwhile, the “other” group did not see them coming or ignored the signs, underestimated their power or tried to dismiss them, saying that Trump’s excesses don’t represent this nation. Now we see that isn’t exactly the case.
But the white supremacists, or those who tried in Texas to run a Biden campaign bus off the road; or the people who attended campaign rallies that made fun of COVID-19 and masks are the mirror that Trump reflects. And he is smiling.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.