The darkest part of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is its white nationalist element with some white male supremacists seeing Trump as the way to protect their historical dominance of America, says Nicholas C. Arguimbau.
By Nicholas C. Arguimbau
America has been a nation of white male supremacists from Day One. They “bought” Manhattan Island from the Indians for $24. They safeguarded slavery in the Constitution. They bought the Louisiana Purchase from the French but stole the land from the Indians, and then took the Southwest from the Mexicans. They settled what was left of the Indians on reservations in the most uninhabitable land on the continent where they live in poverty inconceivable to the rest of us.
White males have nonetheless done some great and noble things. When they declared our independence from England, they could have said, “Get out of our hair; we can make more money without you.” Instead, they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
“–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
When 240 years later Sen. Bernie Sanders declared a political revolution, he could not have said it better, and not one word would have needed to be changed. Yet, the draftsmen in 1776 set the scene for their own demise should they fail in their duties and indubitably they have failed.
But who were the “we” who perceived that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”? Portrayed by the white male artist John Trumbull, the signers of the Declaration of Independence are a room full of white males. No exceptions. In other words, the “governed” at the time of the Revolution were white males.
Thus, governments in that world derived their just powers from white males, and there wasn’t any dispute about it. It was just the way things were.
A few decades later, nothing had changed about the dominance of white males in America, and Honest Abe Lincoln spoke with unquestioned authority when he said in the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858:
“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of … making voters or jurors of Negroes nor of qualifying them to hold office nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
A clearer statement of the principle of white supremacy could not be made, and if it was good enough for Honest Abe — maybe he believed what he was saying and maybe he didn’t, but he is perceived to have won the debates — who can doubt that such a racist attitude remains good enough today for a substantial portion of the white population.
Don’t let yourself forget that Donald Trump didn’t create the Trump phenomenon. The voters who gave him a clear victory in the Republican primaries did. And the Trump campaign, only weeks ago, was neck-and-neck with the Democratic candidate.
Honest Abe’s support of white supremacy has lingered and festered these many years, although, slowly, legal protection of racial and ethnic and gender “minorities” has taken hold in America through such devices as the Equal Protection Clause and the Civil Rights Act.
But supporters of white supremacy have always had an ace in the hole that has preserved a tenuous constitutional support for white supremacy: a majority of the voting population. You might call it “constitutional white supremacy.”
Lost White Majority
But times are changing. Inexorable demography is taking over. Whites no longer retain a majority of Americans under age 5. Soon they will be a minority of those under 18. And it is projected that the white majority of the population as a whole will be gone completely in 2044.
That is the date by which “constitutional white supremacy” will become an oxymoron and whites will have to make a choice between the Constitution and white supremacy. That is a decision that is unavoidable, and must be made soon. Either white supremacists will cede their supremacy or they will maintain it by physical force.
It is the ultimate choice between government by a minority against the will of the people and through force, or government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Yes, that’s Honest Abe too.
The legitimacy of white supremacy within a constitutional framework has been finessed for 240 years, but demographics dictate that it can be finessed no longer. The November election has chosen itself as the forum in which the choice between constitutionalism and white supremacy will be made once and for all.
So let it be made, and made decisively, for constitutional government, which has served a changing majority probably as well these many years as any other form of government could have served.
There is an entire genre at this point of writing about the connection between Trump’s candidacy and the impending end of the white majority. See, for instance, “Donald Trump Is Winning Because White America Is Dying,” a summary of an interview with Noam Chomsky in which the author notes that “many say the business mogul is capitalizing on their fears about the perceived decline of white dominance in America” – a point that Chomsky argues is true but there is more including the seemingly unstoppable decline of the health and financial welfare of white males.
(Also see “Trump: A Presidency Befitting White Minority Rule?“; “Welcome, White Americans, to Your Future: This is What it Feels Like to be a Minority“; and “The End of White America?“)
Constitution or Supremacy
But seldom is it mentioned that white supremacy and constitutional government are fundamentally at odds (and that much of the strategy to protect white supremacy comes in trying to restrict the democratic and constitutional rights of minorities).
We recognize that states are widely attempting to cut off minority voting rights, that “antiterrorism” is a not-very-veiled process going back two decades to deprive non-whites of constitutional safeguards (see, e.g. the US “Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act” of 1993); that conduct of the “war on terror” gives the President unfettered power to do virtually anything without prior authorization and with no apparent participation by the public or even Congress, presumably under his war powers; and indeed that Trump walks and talks like a World War II fascist dictator.
Yet we somehow avoid saying that abandonment of constitutional rule is part and parcel of the preservation of white supremacy. But the reality is that we simply can’t follow the will of a minority and lock out millions of people based explicitly upon race, ethnicity and religion, and maintain that the Constitution rather than the white race reigns supreme. It’s either or.
As fate has decreed, the representative of white supremacy is Donald Trump, and the representative of constitutional government is Hillary Clinton.
This writer doubts that a real majority of Americans are white supremacists willing to sacrifice constitutional government. But they have every reason to believe that Hillary Clinton, with long-lived ties to fictitious corporate “persons,” will do little more than Trump to “derive her just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Nevertheless, constitutional government will not win a decisive victory — and likely not a victory at all — unless Hillary Clinton makes a clean break with her all-too-well-known past and offers a full restoration of constitutional government (committed to the noblest sentiments regarding “We the People” as expressed in the founding documents and subsequent amendments).
If she does that (and she is at least giving lip service to it), she can offer not only preservation of the Constitution but a path towards recovery from the decline of white health and financial welfare discussed by Chomsky, a crisis that many whites (under Trump’s tutelage) wrongly attribute to other races and immigrants.
However, if Clinton wins and fails to restore constitutional governance (by continuing to be the representative of the corporate class), Trump’s followers may be justified in perceiving that they aren’t killing the Constitution because it is already dead.
Nicholas C. Arguimbau is a retired lawyer living with a cat and a dog and forty fruit trees in rural Massachusetts, and doing his level best to avoid consumption that will aid global warming.