This Is Not White Supremacy

When a faithfully married black president who was the son of a single-mother, the first black editor of Harvard Law Review and a professor of constitutional law is considered unintelligent, immoral, and anti-American by the Right while a xenophobic, misogynistic, "serially philandering", trust-fund kid who quotes from the National Enquirer, peddles conspiracy theories, routinely calls women ugly and fat, calls McCain a loser for having been a prisoner of war, and who has advocated torture and the bombing of women and children has captured the hearts of a majority of Republicans. This is white supremacy folks. Plain and simple.

When this showed up in my Facebook feed, I had to read it twice to see if it was a joke. Apparently not. I find it almost horrifying but also deeply fascinating to see how some people think. I also find it a perfect illustration of how we judge character in a U.S. president: we don't. It just doesn't matter.

The statement above has nothing to do with politics, which, last time I checked, was kind of important in evaluating present and future presidents. Politics are about free trade; fiscal responsibility; religious liberties vs. free speech; the right to bear arms; the economy and small business regulation; taxation; illegal immigration; ISIS; foreign policy; and the Constitution and the rule of law to name a few. The statement above also has nothing to do with intelligence, morality, or anti-Americanism.

The statement above is entirely about the character of President Obama vs. the character of Donald Trump. If it mattered, it would matter. Or, rather, if it mattered enough, it would matter enough. But it doesn't. Donald Trump's popularity has nothing to do with his character -- obviously -- and President Obama's character -- roundly viewed as exemplary -- is not enough to overcome his destructive policies and programs.

What does a coal miner who can no longer feed his family because President Obama is philosophically opposed to fossil fuels care about the man's fidelity? Or intelligence? What does a rancher on the southern Arizona border overrun with illegal immigrants care about Donald Trump's philandering? The answer is, they don't. Politics are about power, and no president in modern history passes the character test because character -- no matter how stellar -- is the first casualty of power.

A president says and does things that are personally abhorrent in order to achieve political ends. Abraham "Honest Abe" Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War so that he could detain "disloyal persons" indefinitely without trial; FDR reportedly knew in advance that the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor but let it happen to galvanize Americans into joining the war; LBJ was supposedly a notorious racist but signed Civil Rights legislation into law. Power also tends to diminish self-control: JFK was a womanizer; Nixon was a crook; Clinton was a Clinton (i.e., in a category by himself).

But power is what it's all about.

It is the rage and frustration of powerlessness that drive white, working-class, predominantly male Americans onto the Trump Train in droves. It is white resentment, not supremacy that is in play. White supremacy is "the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society." White resentment is the belief that white people are viewed as evil and undeserving of respect, especially by the black race, and are therefore to be crushed socially, politically, and economically. The people who love Donald Trump and hate President Obama feel shut out of economic and political society and feel demonized for their Judeo-Christian values; they fuel Donald Trump megalomania as a matter of survival.

Character? Not so much.