July 18, 2019 | 72° F

UZUMCU: Trump is mouth-piece to racist ideologies

Opinions Column: Fahrenheit 250

As Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein toured our campus this past weekend, many were overwhelmed with feelings of righteous anger, fear, confusion and denial in regards to the upcoming 2016 presidential election. The election seems more of an option-less formality, rather than an important juncture of democracy. After all, how can Democrats be trusted when wealth always seems to travel to the top, wars and interference abroad continue with no end (let us not forget Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s hawkish international relations policies) and social safety networks are ignored? What are the implications for the Middle East if another Clinton is there to take care of the same old business?

Nonetheless, it is indeed “Trumpism” that has left many looking for how we got into this mess. As we aimlessly search for root causes and reasons, we’re looking high and low to explain how a repeatedly bankrupted businessman and reality show star could still be a candidate to hold the highest position of office in the United States. Ultimately, we are left to conclude that our political system has failed us. Much of it is blamed on the Republican party’s failure to expand its base or hold onto its traditional conservative ideals. The issue clearly runs deeper. Ignoring Republican nominee Donald Trump’s twitter feed for a moment or any of his other inane commentary, he has become a mouthpiece for an ideology larger than himself. Regardless of what he chooses to do or say he maintains his constituency, even for what would otherwise be deadly blows to any average candidate. We should not forget that it is his base that empowers him, and not vice versa.

But the reality remains that Democrats have created Trump as much as the Republicans. It took a dysfunctional political system, one that failed to represent as well as administer justice, to empower a white, racist ideology. The political leaders of the Democratic Party try to frame Trump’s racism and ideological position as utterly irrational. Not only is this claim untrue, it is a position that selfishly benefits a Democratic candidate’s election by evading root causes and concerns in the political system. Clinton cannot just hypocritically push aside her failures to the American people as a leader and shame us to vote for her.

Instead of identifying root causes and workable solutions, Democrats claim no responsibility in isolating and disenfranchising the American working class by years of destructive welfare reform, failed banking reform and exploitative transnational trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It is no coincidence that those hit hardest in the U.S. by trade agreements and the recession years now make up much of Trump’s constituency. Angry Americans left out of the equation, not considered by the previous Clinton Administration or Obama’s "Asia pivot" policies and weak banking reform turn toward a racist ideology to explain their frustration. In the political imagination of the forgotten, violence in the form of supporting mass deportation, expanding the police state, lauding gun ownership, enforcing tests of citizenry, honing securitization practices that target black, brown and Muslim populations — are all key measures in attaining a future that prioritizes those who feel rightfully enraged by a greedy and hypocritical political system. Those who want to confront such divide and uncritical thought in our country would fare off much better in disproving racist logic than in claiming a whole chunk of Americans are idiotic or not thinking clearly. They are thinking very clearly within the realms of racist logic, particularly after the first black president was elected. Ugly, but old faces of racism from historical realities resurface.

Last month, Paul Krugman said during an interview on Bloomberg TV, “Economic anxiety is not a very good predictor of who’s a Trump supporter … Racial antagonism is a good indicator of who’s a Trump supporter.” Of course, racism as a logic is weak. But it is also an ideology that is conducive to violent means to attain an end. Paul Krugman, like many others, makes a hearty error in ignoring the rationale of Trump’s constituency. He too alludes to an unthinkable reasoning in racist ideology, based in no tangible economic or political effects of past decades, when in fact economic anxiety, but more importantly political disempowerment, is a reality many Americans feel deeply. Racist logic should not be the means of correcting the greed and hypocrisy our government has committed. This is why Trump seems so immune. He can make a scene of political career-ending buffoonery without so much as a scratch. Trump’s embodiment as a demagogue is not so much his own charisma or character, but his willingness to be empowered by those who feel compelled to scapegoat and designate blame on racial lines. Trump is willing to be that channel for racist ideology.

The solutions that are given to us are not antidotes to the deeply seeded problem of political representation and empowered racism. Such problems are cyclical and fuel each other, as well. Of course, individuals and communities who are directly affected by the violence of Trump’s rhetoric, particularly after any shooting incident, police officer death or after the recent bombing, are not some ambiguous "other," who are required to prove their allegiance. Instead, we need to have a serious conversation about our political system. It is clear that whoever our political leaders have been advocating on behalf of, it is not us.

Meryem Uzumcu is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in planning and public policy, Middle Eastern studies and women’s and gender studies. Her column, “Fahrenheit 250,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.

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Meryem Uzumcu

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