How Donald Trump Proves America’s Greatness

Donald Trump
Donald Trump photo by Gage Skidmore.

Donald Drumpf Trump is showing me why the world we live in is great and getting better.

Not Trump
Not Trump

He is the physical manifestation of the worst forms of racism, sexism, ableism, heteronormativity and American exceptionalism. He is a garbage monster (apologies to Marjory) conjured by the same ideologies that have begat demagogues since the dawn of time. He and his viewpoints are not new and, yes, I do believe he is saying what many people wish they could say. For a certain subset (which has always been larger than I am comfortable with), he tells it like it is.

However, what’s great about him is the number of people who are no longer willing to be complicit in his messaging.

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There are many moments when being a marginalized person in the world feels as if you’re living in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” You’re constantly shouting “That man’s not wearing anything!” by pointing out why something is racist/sexist/ableist/heteronormative, etc. Frequently, the response is akin to “I definitely see the clothing. Look at that stitching!” It is tiring to constantly battle a system that diminishes you and even more exhausting when your allies are complicit in that diminishing. But that has been the status quo. Trump’s version of the status quo is so damaging that the well-meaning ally is forced to rethink their role in this system.

Trump is the unabashedly naked man standing next to the Emperor saying “I’m doing what the Emperor’s doing” and it highlights how foolish they both look.

White, male, cis, straight, able-bodied people see Trump’s rhetoric and are asking themselves “Do I really want to be on the same side of history as this guy?” They are calling out his shenanigans using plain language and demanding that others do the same. An op-ed in the Washington Post asks not “should Republicans denounce Trump,” but “how” should they. It even offers a place to start:

By now, the GOP establishment’s role in fueling Donald Trump’s rise is well established. What is less certain, however, is why Republican presidential candidates and other party leaders, in their futile efforts to bring Trump down, have been so reluctant to make a strong moral case against him… let’s dispel with this fiction that Republican leaders cannot unequivocally repudiate Trump-ism and all it represents. In fact, they already have: Here is a speech that any Republican presidential hopeful could give — assembled (almost) entirely from the words of former Republican presidents.

Mitt Romney has even joined the “IDK NOT TRUMP THO 2016” bandwagon.

“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” said Romney, 68, who did not endorse any candidate… “I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state,” he said.

The Emperor really is naked and he’s standing next to an orange-haired, fear-mongering, racist, sexist buffoon.

I’m not naive enough to think that Romney’s (or any other person’s) denouncement is altruistic or the harbinger of a “post-racial” society. They are simply directionally correct instances of a more noble goal: inclusive discussions of how people, even good people, can be problematic.

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We can use Trump’s racism to call out Hillary Clinton’s.

We can talk about Bernie Sanders’ problems with Black voters.

The President of the United States can discuss how the Republican party is reaping what it sowed.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren can outright call Trump a loser and thoughtfully explain why he is dangerous.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]All of this marks the beginning of a possible paradigm shift.[/pullquote]While name-calling is not normally a beacon of progress, all of this marks the beginning of a possible paradigm shift. When faced with the options of maintaining decorum by supporting the status quo or calling out shenanigans even when they’re not directed at you, more people who matter are choosing to call out the shenanigans. This is important because the status quo depends on good people staying silent. More people are seeing the consequences of that silence and are speaking out.

Trump shows me that we’re learning from past mistakes.

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Trump also shows me who the real allies are. I have no patience for Trump supporters or the let’s-see-how-this-plays-out crowd. Anyone who views Trump as either a benign sideshow or “the leader our country needs” is willing to play Russian Roulette with my future and I will not tolerate it. I am not here for anyone willing to risk ending up in an extra-racist version of The Handmaid’s Tale just to continue the spectacle. Anyone endorsing Trump is hocking our collective liberty for short-term political gain.

Yes, the stakes are that high. No, there are no exceptions.

In fact, more and more people are unwilling to take that gamble. And the people who are willing to gamble are identifying themselves as complicit in perpetuating the worst parts of the American dream. As an American, I am buoyed by the fact that fewer and fewer people are willing to trade our collective humanity for that dream — a fiction that didn’t include many of us in the first place.

Trump is everything that is wrong with America.

Our rejection of him shows me that we might just be all right.