I can summarize Trumpism with one quote from LBJ. But before I begin, we need to think about the history of class, economics, and politics as they affect minorities in our country. No one can deny our country’s record on these issues. It has been a failure. Let’s start with the climate in our country when former President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) made a quote that summarizes Trumpism today. This quote was made in the 1960s. Then (not now), the country was divided by several issues, including the intersection of politics and racial tensions. Sound familiar?
Democrats and Republicans made policy shifts then that still stand today. Democrats, led by President Kennedy and later Johnson, inched toward Civil Rights reforms that would benefit minorities and marginalized people. Republicans, led by a new dependence on Southern white voters, galvanized around keeping class and economic systems intact that benefited whites in America. It was quite a showdown, and it is a battle that continues now.
With the volatility of life in the 1960s as a backdrop, LBJ offered the following quote. It summarizes Trumpism today…
“I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you”. – President Lyndon Johnson
- Trump and people who think like him have convinced, and in some cases, reaffirmed, “the lowest white man’s” belief that they are better than people of color. Therefore, they can base their anxieties about race, class, economics, and a myriad of other issues on people of color. People of color are the problem! As a result of this thinking, they can scapegoat black people for crime while blaming immigrants for taking jobs. They must keep the myth alive that their skin color makes them superior to “the best colored man”.
- Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” that a vote for a Republican is always in their best interest, even when Republicans oppose things they need. Some of “the lowest white men” and their families depend on social programs, yet Republican agendas consistently cut or try to completely end these programs. Yet they are convinced Republican will take care of them on other issues, like scapegoating black people for crime while blaming immigrants for taking jobs.
- Trump and people who think like them have convinced “the lowest white man” that conspiracy theories abound, and all of them are designed to destroy white people in America. Most of these theories help “the best colored man”, and dare I say, women more than “the lowest white man.” So, minorities and immigrants get welfare, free healthcare, affirmative action, and even separate schools that whites do not get. Conspiracy theories like these run rampant and fuel anti-minority and anti-immigrant sentiment.
- Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” that the county he knows, and loves will disappear as demographics shift. It’s a fact; whites in America will become the “minority” when their numbers are compared to non-white people in this century. Our country is getting browner, and this means America will change. White people will lose their rights! To counter this threat, the “lowest white man” believes in the “need” to make America great again (by keeping America white).
- Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” the only way to stem the threat minorities and immigrants present is to prepare for the next civil war. White supremacists carried out terrorist activities throughout our history to terrorize and intimidate. Today we see these acts as a desperate attempt to fight back and stop minorities and immigrants. Why do you think “the lowest white man” refuses to give up his Second Amendment right to own guns, especially guns designed for war? He needs them just in time to make America great again.
- Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” that he will be at the bottom of society if “the best colored man” takes over America (see Barack Obama). We can go a step further. They are convinced, and probably afraid, that all the injustices perpetrated against people of color in America, will be done to them. Maybe they will be imprisoned at higher rates. Maybe they will receive lower wages. Maybe they will have their voting rights restricted. What happens when “the lowest white man” is treated like a second-class citizen?
I believe that most white people in America do not agree with “the lowest white man”. But some are not ready for the changes future demographics will bring. They think in terms of one or two issues Trump, and “the lowest white man” fear. It is unfortunate that Trumpism relies on both sets of people to make America great again. It relies on “the lowest white man” to vote for him because of his paranoia. It plays on the fear of some white people who are afraid of what will happen as the country becomes darker.
Lyndon Johnson said it best. I’m sure he had no idea his words would still apply in 2019… and 2029… and 2039…
Need more proof? These stories are hot off the press…
Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.
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