By Moshe Rozdzial, PhD*
Many explanations have been proposed, in the weeks since the presidential election, for Trump’s win, and, to one degree or another, most have some validity. One explanation – working class economic insecurity – seems unsupported. The economy is at its healthiest since the Bush-era recession. Gas prices are at 1998 levels and unemployment is at record low levels. Clinton’s email intrigues, including the FBI interventions and Russian hacking do not appear to have translated into the major polling shifts.
It is my opinion that the election uncovered an overarching pendulum reaction to half century of movement towards civil and social justice. Trump directly spoke to and captured the racial, religious, and masculine insecurities that have challenged the pillars of straight white Christian male privilege, especially during the Obama presidency: an African-American president, Gay marriage, the portent of Muslim immigration and the prospect of a woman president. In choosing Trump over Secretary Clinton, a majority of White women chose their racial privilege over their gender advances during the last two generations, and Evangelicals chose Christian white superiority over moral judgment of Trump’s character.
Never before in US history has a serial philanderer, twice-divorced habitual sexual predator passed muster to reach the highest position in the land. A mass counter-offensive and betrayal of the movement towards greater inclusion and democratization of the American society rallied to the banner of returning America to a time of straight Christian white male domination (making America great again!). I believe that it was fear against the lost privilege and entitlement that coalesced into Trump’s support across all socioeconomic strata, in order to maintain the real and supremacist promise of white Christian male power and dominance in access to resources.
I believe that privilege in gender (male), sexual (straight), racial (white), and religious (Christian) identities lead to blindness of the sexism and heterosexism in Trump’s campaign, rendering his misogyny normative, downplayed, or invisible to many of his female and male voters. To protect their “interests”, including anti-abortion, they chose white-Christian entitlement over gender and racial justice. They chose power, through the acquisition of political power. They chose to advance their white-Christian Patriarchal status by aligning with the white-Christian supremacy movement.
I do not believe, as some have opined, that this electoral success was based in mass ignorance. We live in the most informed era in human history, and yet, also the most vulnerable era to false news, biased news, propaganda and racial incitement, that can reach the multitudes. The Trump candidacy was a strategic movement to rally the racial and male bias long held in check by “political correctness” and peer pressure, especially in the rust belt and rural centers of the country. Trump’s campaign strategy gave justification and legitimacy for racial bigotry and discrimination, and a voice as a reactionary movement against the diversification of American society. The Obama administration gave the Trump campaign the symbol it needed to conjure the illusion of systemic loss of white supremacy and privilege.
Even in the face of minimal experience, judgment, or values to carry out the job of president, Trump was chosen by the winning portion of the American voting population (27.1% of Americans eligible to vote as of December, 2016), as a white male demagogue who would fend off the threats to Christian white male supremacy that his propaganda machine and eventually, his political party, the GOP, were able to sell en masse.
In Patriarchy, women survive by aligning with male or religious interests in order to gain security and protection, and internalize complicity in their own oppression. In response, the anti-sexist and racial-justice movements must continue to frame the issue as a betrayal of the civil rights movement of the last sixty years. In every venue, we must name the injustices relative to the vision of an equal and just America. We must point out the intersection of oppressions that will render most of us vulnerable to the “alt-right” fascist agenda. We must commit to promoting an analysis and consciousness of healing communal differences and support similarities over group and individual gains or losses.
*Moshe Rozdzial is national co-chair of NOMAS, the National Organization for Men Against Sexism. He is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in private practice, GLOW Counseling (www.GLOWcounseling.com), in Denver, Colorado.