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Confronting White American Racism

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Now that I've discussed most of the variables and the root causes of the Democratic Party's failures and challenges in the aftermath of the Trump Route of the 2016, its time to address the final bogeyman that the party MUST confront in order for it to progress and grow in the short term and possibly transform itself in the long term. It's a necessary precondition for the party to once again regain its progressive, people-centered path, and an important structural wall -- yes, it needs to build a wall -- that protects "we the people, the ORDINARY American people" from that enduring "thing" that's at the very core, the foundation, of what has kept America from achieving genuinely true greatness.

It's called Racism. Particularly an entrenched, unbending, conscious and unconscious, ingrained belief and perception by white Americans that they are superior to ALL non-white peoples, especially Black and Brown people. The Democratic Party, for all of its inherent flaws, is still the most qualified and competent organization to take on this most urgent of issues and tasks. Yes, I can hear you speaking about the lesser of two evils and it's that thinking that has shoved the Democratic Party from rejecting and building on FDR's "New Deal," and into a new fawning, meritocracy and haven for DINOS -- Democrats In Name Only.

In the 2016 Presidential Elections the party could not speak coherently to blue collar Republicans AND Democrats. It focused on the population centers in both the North East and West and paid little attention to working class America. Democrats were "not with them." The party's meritocratic wing took over running a "know-it-all" campaign, failed to really attack Trump on issues, and had very little consideration for the working poor -- Hillary Clinton did not "feel their pain." But even with all that and the fact that it's easy to point out the failure of the Hillary Clinton campaign to win the election, the reality is both simple AND complex -- Trump's victory, driven mostly by white voters was a reaction based on fear of the future and white racism -- white, CHRISTIAN AMERICAN RACISM.

Its something that very few political leaders or any stripe want to address. Yet, it's there ugly, sinister and enduring. You see, what CNN, Fox 5 et all won't ever admit or tell you is that in Donald Trump's deep red and totally white America, the white God is the Lord, Master and King, both figuratively and literally. In these areas, rabid and rigid religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems for centuries. Built on this unbending framework of fundamentalism and Biblical literalists there is no room for questioning, change, learning or introspection. In these regions and climate open criticism is considered sacrilege, taboo, especially from "outsiders" not belonging to the tribe. It is not encouraged or welcomed. So in this climate -- a clash between the enlightened North West and East and more educated Americans -- the issue is that "Northerners" can speak until they are blue in the face and make ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT on rural Americans. They will not listen to ANYONE outside of their "Christian, God-fearing communities." These are well-meaning Americans who genuinely believe that Black people became so because of the Biblical Curse of Ham. They believe that they are the superior human race as ordained by God and written in the Bible. That's the kind of drivel that is preached in most churches in rural white America -- every day, especially on Sundays.

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Problem is this kind of belief, entrenched and reinforced by this brand of intolerant religious fundamentalism, drives blind white racism and its difficult to erase because people genuinely believe what is articulated by their holy book and by preachers. Rural white Americans will never entertain any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Education is the enemy of religious fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. Education and learning are only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts old, established doctrines and core fundamentalist arguments, and long-held beliefs, it becomes dangerous.

It therefore is no major surprise that Donald Trump has become the darling of rural, white America. He's THEIR CHAMPION -- racist, loud mouth, not too educated (in their eyes), has a disparaging view of women (keep them in their places) and thinks that foreigners and non-white people are bad, criminals and will rape their "pure white" maidens. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party by contrast are over-educated, condescending North Eastern liberals who want to take away their guns, don't too care for the Bible, and support gay marriage that God says is an "abomination."

But rural, Christian, white Americans are also racists. And, no we're not talking about white hood wearing, cross-burning, dirty talking, lynching racists. We're talking about people who deep down in their hearts genuinely and truly believe they are superior to others because they are white. To them their white God made them in his "image and likeness" and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed, and cursed who can be beaten, brutalized, and killed without redress. And before you start thinking that I'm off my rocker try visiting these Southern churches where versions of these racist screeds are published, preached, and sermonized EVERY SUNDAY. Yes, some of the more odious racist positions have been boiled down these days but many people still hold on to these claims though sensible enough to not parade or air them openly.

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For them this racism is entrenched by a belief, passed on to each generation, that non-whites are the color they are because of their sins and those of their ancestors. So Black people don't have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution. No, they have dark skin because they are cursed and cursed people don't deserve the things God's blessed whites with. God cursed them for His reasons and it isn't proper to question them. If God cursed them, then treating them as equals would be going against God's Will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently, poorly, if they are cursed by God, will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status given to them by an almighty God. Once you hold this view, it is easy to lower the outside group's standing, worth, value and rationalize as acceptable any and all unjust and unfair levels of mistreatment.

One of the reasons why Hillary Clinton lost is not because she and her campaign failed to speak to blue-collar rural America but because of this constituent's tone-deaf approach to ANYTHING that contradicts its entrenched, deep and rigid fundamentalist beliefs. Coastal elites, in their view, deal with such "un-Godly things" that run contrary to "Good Christian teachings and the Bible." To them Democrats are doing Satan's work because they are pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-education (because it does not teach creationism) and believe "this nonsense" about women's equality. The Democratic Party therefore was locked into an argument that the party and Hillary Clinton could not win because they were arguing with and against God.

For white, Christian, blue-collar America that's an unwinnable argument and no amount of reasoning will make them suddenly abandon their fundamentalist beliefs or even countenance a limited opening to reason and facts. See why Donald Trump appealed so "bigly" to this constituent?

Finally, here are the Democratic Party's challenges - some which contributed to Hillary Clinton's losing the 2016 Presidential Elections. Both campaign and party failed to answer these crucial questions. Number one was (and is) how do you make issues like climate change a personal thing for someone who believes that ONLY God can change the weather? Number two, how do you make racial equality up-close and personal to individuals who believe that ALL white people are naturally superior to non-whites? Number three, how do you make gender equality personal to people who believe that ALL women, no matter how qualified or educated, are supposed to be subservient to men by God's command as written in the Good Book? Number four, how do you get someone to view Black people and other minorities as non-threatening to people who don't live around and never interacted with them? And five, how do you make personal the fact that massive Republican tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they've voted for these for decades?

These are the Democratic Party's challenges. If the party is to embrace progressive millennials, be a place for baby boomers to become engaged and their experiences respected, and fess up and man up to its own shortcomings, then and only then will the party be transformed into the vanguard of "we the people."

 

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)
 

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