A couple of sentences from Donald Trump’s interview with the British tabloid paper Sun, on 12 July, explain the phenomenon that has come to be known as Trumpism and its fervor among the 62.9 million Americans who voted for him in 2016. (His opponent, by the way, received 65.8 million votes and this anomaly is also rooted in the dominant mindset). He asserted during the interview, that “allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very very sad. I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago”. Later, in a press conference with PM Teresa May he speculated that he won the election because of his campaign’s immigration stand.
This is a cry for the past – 10 or 15 years ago is actually language for centuries and centuries of a particular mindset or world view. But before we come to that, the clock ticks forward. That is the universal law, it is how the universe runs. No one can turn back, as to rewind the movement of the dynamics of the universe. It is like wishing to stop the sun (we are told in the bible that Joshua did if you want to be literal) or undo aging. It is inevitable that body joints clink, pop, snap, sizzle and crack in the course of aging.
What is happening is painful resistance to the inevitable.
But what is the nucleus of the predominant mindset? I am convinced the nexus of the worldview Trumpism represents is white male domination. The white male has dominated every aspect of society over the centuries. Rebecca Traister pointed out in an article titled Summer of Rage in New York Magazine (6/29/18) that “white men are the minority in the United States – no wonder they get uncomfortable when their power is challenged”. On illustration she uses is the fact that in the 242 year history of the U.S there have been 92 presidents and vice presidents, 100% of them males and more than 99% white males. The one black male elected president became the rallying grievance for Trumpism.
All the major social and political struggles in the U.S have been attempts to challenge the ruling minority. Whether it is Women’s Suffrage, Reproductive Rights, Civil Rights, Planned Parenthood and so on, the white male has exerted coercion, intimidation and any rhetoric in between, in a quest to continue to dominate society. The reality of not only a black man, but a woman, becoming president, sent shock waves into the worldview of the dominant culture.
But change is inevitable. In the popular British TV drama series, Downton Abbey, Robert Crawley, the patriarch of the clan, worries about the future because of the changes in the society. He laments, “Sometimes I feel like a creature in the wilds whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed”. This is after Cora’s mother, Martha Levinson (played by Shirley MacLane) makes this comment: “You know the way to deal with the world today is not to ignore it. If you do, you’ll just get yourself hurt”. As to the feelings of the creature in the wilds, Martha recommends that “some animals adapt to new surroundings. It seems a better choice than extinction”.
Certainly Trumpism is not in any sense an attempt to ignore the changing world. It is not adaptation to the new world either, otherwise there would not be wishes for the past 10 or 15 years. What we are seeing is a fight for what is fast slipping away and the fight is choking everyone in society. But there is only one outcome, fight or refuse to adapt: the clock will never tick backwards, it is not how the universe runs.