Summer of Rage

July 5, 2018 · 4 minute read

Rebecca Traister has written an excellent article about the outsized power of white men in the United States.

White men make up only a third of the popuplation, yet every president has been male and, with one notable exception, white. They still dominate political power.

Their outsize power is measurable by the fact that they still — nearly 140 years after the passage of the 15th Amendment, not quite 100 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, and more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts — hold roughly two-thirds of elected offices in federal, state, and local legislatures.

[…] I think its more than that: The hold that the minority has on every realm of power — economic, social, sexual — is so pervasive and assumed that we don’t even notice when the few oppress the many. Its invisible, and any show of defiance against that power is what stands out as aberrant and dangerous.

This all seems unsurprising, if disheartening. The part that has so mystified me, and something I ruminated over in my post-election ramblings, is the voting record of white women. Most of the statistics about the election were not terribly surprising to me. Yes, men favored Trump over Clinton. White people voted Trump. Black people voted Clinton.

The surprise to me is that white women, who, like white men, make up about a third of the American population, overwhelmingly voted for Trump. Why would they prefer a candidate who treats them as less-than-human? A candidate who seemingly goes against their interests?

And yes, some of the upholders of minority power are themselves women — women working in service of a brutal white patriarch and the brutal white patriarchal party he leads. Similarly, a majority of white women voted for Trump, and always vote for his party, because they benefit from white supremacy even as they are subjugated by patriarchy. This same dynamic explains why higher percentages of men in every racial category voted for Trump and his party: They gain through the patriarchy even as they are oppressed by white supremacy. This is how minority rule persists.

I think Traister is on to something when she makes this point. White women may not be directly in power, but they benefit from the power of the white patriarchy. To upset this order would be to upset their position. They may not be as powerful as white men, but they are more powerful than other groups, and supporting a woman, or a black person, upsets the balance of power.

Supporting the status quo, supporting the system they grew up in, makes sense. Even if they are not directly in power, their husbands and fathers and sons are. And by and large, the role of women has been to support their families.

Part of this also is simply the “conservative” mindset. Even if the status quo is not perfect, it still known. In general, the left are more neophilic (attracted to new things) and the right are more neophobic.

Traister goes on to point out the rise of women such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have hope of upsetting this balance of power.

But thats also why he, along with liberal political leadership, should perhaps pay closer attention to the women who are staging electoral coups

I think Traister is making the point that there is a new generation of unabashedly liberal candidate on the rise, and there lies hope.

I’d like to think there is an opportunity here for there to be real change in American politics, for there to be more representation in our representational government. It’s hard for me to envision right now.

Hillary Clinton, an intelligent, experienced, politician, was perhaps the worst candidate that the Democrative Party could have nominated. She has been a lightning rod of right-wing hate for at least 25 years, and she lacks the charisma and real message of hope and change that could electrify the left like Obama did.

The Democratic Party has been almost completely ineffectual in the Age of Trump.

Hate for Trump is not a viable political platform. I’m certain the majority of people in the United States hate Trump. I’m not sure on how much else they do agree on.

The Republicans have a cogent platform. Anti-immigration. Gun rights. Conservative Supreme Court justices.

Will we see an uprising of Democratic candidates who are liberal enough to energize their base and also be able to build a real coalition? What does the Democratic platform look like in 2018? In 2020?

“Not Trump” is not enough.