The Trumping of America: A Case of Historical Amnesia? (or a “Call to War”)

images (2)According to Rudy Giuliani, “before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States.” Just a couple days ago, I heard the bat-shit crazy Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson tell a female Fox News correspondent she had the “luxury” of working at Fox.

Such are just two of the most recent head-scratchers.

Um, didn’t 9/11 happen before Obama, Rudy?

And didn’t Fox just get nailed for sexually harassing its female employees? How can

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Katrina tell a female correspondent working under such conditions is a luxury?

According to Real Clear Politics, “One half of his (Trump’s) voters have a high school education or less, compared to 19 percent with a college or post-graduate degree” as of September 2015. According to the Pew Research Center (July 2016), he is also gaining Evangelical Christian support. Of religious groups in America, Evangelicals are historically the least educated.

Now I know Trump’s supporters are a mix of various “groups” of people and while lack of education is particularly problematic no matter whom one votes for, what is most troubling for me is that much support seems to be based on a fundamental historical amnesia.

The examples provided at this post’s onsets are just two recent examples. Really Giuliani? You forgot the terrorists attacks in your city? Those attacks during Bush’s presidency? So in case he forgot, Bush was the president before Obama.

Oh, and by the way “the economy under Obama has gained about seven times as many jobs as it did under Bush; even given the financial meltdown, the unemployment rate has dropped to just below the historical average,” writes George Saunders of The New Yorker (July 2016).

Historical amnesia is particularly problematic this election season and of course lack of education does relate to historical amnesia. Republicans think another Republican can get this country back on track. But let’s go back in time a little to see when the train that is America railed off the tracks and became the wreck it is today.

It started with modern Republicans’ favorite Republican, Ronald Reagan, who promised, like Donald Drumpf,  to “make America great again.” Did he make it great again? For a few people sure. And who would those be?

The rich.

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As Daniel Brook writes in The Trap, “The upward redistribution of wealth that has transformed American society began with the Reagan Revolution” (12). His tax cuts were nefariously constructed to help the already wealthy out. And as Kevin Phillips, a one time Republican campaign strategist, put it: “‘The concentration of wealth [is] what the Republican party is all about'” (qtd. in Brook 201).

Reagan’s economic policy was nothing short of an undeclared class war.

And as for all those jobs Americans have lost and want back? You know the lack of jobs people get mad at Obama for? (Even though the statistics say otherwise?)

Well you can thank your tried-and-true American Republicans (once again) for that.

Here’s what the Center for American Progress says:

Manufacturing employment collapsed from a high of 19.5 million workers in June 1979 to 11.5 workers in December 2009, a drop of 8 million workers over 30 years. Between August 2000 and February 2004, manufacturing jobs were lost for a stunning 43 consecutive months—the longest such stretch since the Great Depression.” Manufacturing plants have also declined sharply in the last decade, shrinking by more than 51,000 plants, or 12.5 percent, between 1998 and 2008. These stable, middle-class jobs have been the driving force of the U.S. economy for decades and theses losses have done considerable damage to communities across the country.

So let’s see, who were the presidents during that time? Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and (ugh, again?) another George Bush. 20 years Republican, 8 years Democrat. Surely Bill didn’t reverse a trend that had already sunk its great white teeth in great white jobs. And when did the biggest bleeding occur? With little Georgie.

Of course such trends contribute to the growing inequality that we face as a nation. By the time Reagan left office, “the CEO-to-worker pay ratio had jumped to ninety-three to one” (Brook 67).

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Here’s what former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said:

“We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few” (qtd. in Brook 12)

I get that many Americans are pissed and I consistently see a bunch of angry white men as leading voices in the call for Trump. I get it, they’re pissed. And sure, they have every right to be. It sucks to wallow in poverty and barely make ends meet.

Here’s what I quite don’t get though. 95 of the 100 poorest counties in the United States are located in so-called “red states,” most of which consist of a white majority. What does this mean? Poor Republicans consistently vote for Republicans–Republicans whose interests serve, as history demonstrates, the rich.

Horrible racial tensions have exploded in America. White versus black, black versus white. I get why both groups are mad.

As much as racial issues do matter and do need to be addressed, I also wonder if much of the racial tension that does exist can be ameliorated and perhaps, eventually resolved, if we emphasize issues of class over those of race.

I mean, you have a huge contingent of angry white people, many of whom are poor, dirt poor with little opportunity.

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Then of course you have a huge contingent of black people, many who are poor, dirt poor with little opportunity.

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What’s the difference? Skin color and typical locations: small towns in the Deep South and the Midwest and the inner-cities.

Such differences are superficial to say the least. What they share in common is greater than what separates them. Poor white people lacking in opportunity have more in common with poor black people lacking in opportunity than they do with the rich and powerful white people they vote for.

Hell, race (as typically defined by skin color) is nothing but an 18th/19th century social construction used to legitimize social hierarchy and dominance. It has no basis in nature, in “reality.”

In other words, “race” is made up.

Yet we perpetuate it, the media perpetuates it. What does it serve? To further violence, ignorance. The “race war” dupes us into fighting one another so we don’t see the “real enemy.”

Who’s destroying the country?

The elites–like the one’s who send those jobs overseas.

What is currently a race war might be better turned into a class war.

Only when the power and the wealth is no longer concentrated in the hands of the few will America be a democracy.

Then AND ONLY THEN will America be “great.”

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