Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’ve come to see Donald Trump as a cultural phenomenon more than a political one. There’s still plenty of time for somebody to whip him into shape, but it seems like the nightmares of his retrograde political ambitions are unlikely to come to pass. The man is just too incompetent. What he is, is a symbol. Ta-Nehisi Coates recently dubbed Trump “The First White President”. In this video I argue that he’s also the last. Donald Trump is one last barbaric yawp of resentment from mid-century suburban Babbits on their way to the grave. He symbolizes the accelerated destruction of a dying era rather than a new one. I’m excited to see what’s next…
…as long as it’s not Nuclear war.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Ladies and Gentlemen, Donald Trump is killing White America. I should probably clarify what I mean. Despite my deep-seated racism I’m not talking about White Genocide or something ridiculous like that. I’m talking about the death of a certain mid-20th Century version of white identity. I think this is a good thing. Identities are constantly changing. Being a “White American” means something very different from century to century, and even from decade to decade. We may be ready for a new set of identities in the United States, hopefully ones that have more to do with the content of our character than the color of our skins.
Donald Trump destroys whatever he touches, and this week it’s the National Football League. People have tons of theories for the decline in NFL viewership and profit. Some say it’s concerns about brain injury. Trump claims that it’s because of Colin Kaepernick’s tendency to take a knee during the US National anthem to protest the oppression of African Americans.
All these theories ignore the fact that it’s the 20th century business model that hurts the NFL more than anything else. In 21st century America, there are fewer and fewer things that require you to sit down at a certain time and watch something for three hours, while being force fed ads. Everything’s on Demand Now. It’s surprising the NFL has lasted this long in its current form honestly. Until Friday Evening, it looked like the NFL had survived the national anthem controversy. Kaepernick was not signed to a team this year, and the other protests had been fading away. The NFL owners had already done what Trump requested on Friday, and American Football was once again becoming safe for white fragility. Until Friday Night. SON OF A BITCH Trump brought the controversy roaring back, and it’s quite possible that this time it will do serious damage to the NFL. Instead of two or three athletes, we’ve now got whole teams skipping the national anthem. Trump has imposed real costs on the NFL owners, all but one of whom is white. As aging plutocrats the owners are also very natural Trump supporters. Or at least they used to be. Turning the NFL into an arena for race politics isn’t good for business. Despite the race of 80% of the players, the NFL’s audience is 83% white and skews heavily Republican. A Trumpkin boycott could seriously damage the NFL, a very old school white America institution.
The President’s influence on the Confederate statue issue has been just as bad for old school white America. The parks of many Southern cities feature statues of generals from the losing side of the US civil war. This controversy had been brewing for a while. I kind of liked Baltimore’s approach. They kept the Statues, but put up plaques documenting how they were symbols of white supremacy. Which they absolutely are. A month or so back Donald Trump weighed in.
So how did that go? The statues are quickly coming down across the country, Baltimore included.
Do you see a trend here? I still believe that Trump’s election had a lot to do with economic insecurity, and that it would never have happened if the Democrats had picked a halfway decent candidate. But it’s getting harder to ignore the fact that his most solid support comes from Trump’s loud advocacy of an outmoded vision of White America. Ta-Nehisi Coates has famously called Trump America’s First white President. While I don’t agree with all of Coates’s critique I think that’s probably right.
I think Trump is America’s First White President. I also think he’s the last. From the NFL, to the Southern Statues to coal mining, Trump is presiding over the last gasp of older whiter ideas and institutions in the United States. Trump is actually accelerating the demise of these ideas and institutions. Conservatives held their nose and voted for Trump because they thought he’d be able to enact their agenda. How’s that going? Though I consider myself a conservative it’s hard to deny that the Republican party forwards an agenda that’s better for Wealthier White Americans. Trump’s disastrous failure to lead has actually managed to drive up sympathy for ideas like socialized medicine.
In this arena too, Trump is over-seeing the death of old ideas, not their resurgence. Trump isn’t making His White America Great Again, he is speeding up its end. Thanks For Watching, Please Subscribe, and if you want a free essay on a completely different topic, please sign up for my email newsletter.