Angry white Trump voters, listen up.
Despite your apparent disconnect from the reality the rest of us can see, you have excruciatingly little in common with the current occupant of the White House. Well, “little in common” other than your skin color.
And unless you’re orange, you don’t even have that in common with The Donald.
He knows that. Which is precisely why he focuses most of his attention on the proverbial “them” in his ubiquitous, ugly, “us versus them” rhetoric. No matter which “them” he’s blaming at the particular rally at which you happen to be insisting that Jews will not replace us, the rhetoric works the same.
None of your woes are his fault, either, incidentally.
All of your woes are some specified others’ fault.
At best, it’s a convenient bit of sleight of hand, foisted upon embittered, unfortunate souls, desperate for an answer to multi-generational woes. At worst, it’s purposeful race-baiting, tricking the perpetually disadvantaged into waging class warfare against the even more disadvantaged, all to the advantage of the rich.
And either way, it’s been going on for a lot longer than Donald Trump’s been on the scene. He’s just especially adept at pulling your ultra-exposed, obvious-to-everyone puppet strings.
Every time he talks, he peppers his monologues with dog whistles. Dog whistles are seemingly innocuous words and phrases, chosen both for their plausible deniability and to convey a particular subtextual meaning to certain listeners. Dog whistles appeal to you by playing into your preexisting beliefs about people who are different than you, especially those with darker skin than yours.
Need some examples? Look at Trump’s divisive rhetoric about Chicago, “the Blacks,” law enforcement overreach and violence, animals, infestations, Muslims, South African seizing land from white farmers, and anti-Nazi protesters, for starters.
For instance, according to the President of the United States, predominantly African-American communities are unilaterally run-down and ravaged by crime and unemployment. It’s all, of course, caused by the Democrats. Thus, African-Americans should vote for a Republican for a change, because after all, “What do you have to lose?”
On the surface, taking race out of the equation, it’s a relatively innocent (if factually flawed) proposition: one party has routinely let you down, so why not take a chance on letting the other party lead for a while?
But to be honest, the message isn’t aimed at the stated recipient.
He’s not talking to Black people.
He’s talking to you, white folks.
As a white person in the audience, here’s what he’s conveying to you:
Y’all don’t go downtown anymore because everyone knows it’s dangerous down there. Nothing but crime and drugs everywhere. I don’t blame you. I honestly don’t know why anyone would live there, but the brown folks seem to want to stay there.
Down there, the Black and brown folks elect Black and brown mayors and Black and brown city councilmen, and look where that has gotten them. Crime, drugs, gangs, the streets are crumbling, businesses are boarded up. They can’t govern themselves, obviously.
If they were smart, like you are, they’d vote for people who know what the hell they are doing. Civilized people who won’t put up with thugs running the streets. You don’t have those problems in the suburbs, you know? And don’t worry, it’s not racist to want a better life for Black and brown people.
There’s nothing objectively racist about the phrase, “what do you have to lose,” when taken purely as words in a vacuum. And that’s precisely what makes them a dog whistle.
Everyone involved retains the plausible deniability of innocuous words.
And though outwardly vague, the listeners understand the racist message the speaker intends:
People that look and act like them are the problem. People that look and act like you and me are the solution. I’m rich and powerful, and you already think the same way I think. You are justified in your thinking.
The President of the United States might not be a Rhodes Scholar, but he knows his audience. He knows the biases you have, and knows exactly how to lead you down the path to confirming them.
Here’s the thing with that. He desperately wants you to believe that he empathizes with your plight. He wants you to think he has the answers, and better yet, that those answers are miraculously the same fakakta ones your backwoods ass came up with over some Bud Lights down at the bar with your friends, Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber.
Holy shit, Buford, see that? Your mama was right! You’re every bit as smart as a billionaire!
I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, Buford, but your “billionaire” role model is full of Big Macs, Diet Coke, and more to the point at hand, shit.
You have much more in common with the poor Black and brown folks he’s blaming for everything than you do with anyone named Trump. And just like science, that’s true whether you believe it or not.
[bctt tweet=”You have much more in common with the poor Black and brown folks he’s blaming for everything than you do with anyone named Trump.” username=”trifectablog”]
Tell me if this story sounds familiar:
You work and struggle, but you never seem to get ahead, at least not for long. You’re doing maybe a little better than your grandparents did, but not really much better than your parents. Hell, maybe worse than your parents, to be honest. Once upon a time, a person could get a good job with a high school education. You could buy a house on a factory worker’s wages. You could move to the suburbs, live a happy life, and retire at 62 ½.
Now? Yeah, right. “Unemployment” is low, but every job out there is part time or contract work. Your credit is just now recovering from 2008’s crash. You’re probably never going to be able to retire, at least not comfortably.
Your kids’ school sucks. There aren’t enough teachers, there’s violence, and they’ve cut all of the extracurricular activities. And how in the hell are you going to pay for college?
Crime is on the rise in your area. You’re worried about the drugs the kids are experimenting with today – way stronger than anything you ever tried.
Do you know who can relate to damned near everything I just wrote? Well, let’s see: there’s (1) you, and (2) Poor Black and brown people.
Do you know who can’t relate to a single damned thing I just wrote? Rich white people.
Donald Trump knows you want someone to blame for the way things are going in your world. He sure as hell doesn’t want you to blame him or the members of Mar-a-Lago. He also knows you don’t hang out with a lot of Black and brown folks, which incidentally is a prerequisite for membership at Mar-a-Lago.
Sure, you might work with some Black and brown people, but y’all don’t hang out. You don’t like the same music, movies, or TV shows as them. They dress differently. They talk differently. They act differently. You don’t get why they don’t just _________________.
And because of that, he knows that you have no idea just how much you have in common with them.
Stop and think.
A guy has a thick New York accent. He puts his name on anything that he can, usually in big gold letters. Hell, his personal plane had his name emblazoned on the side. He brags about being a billionaire. For fun, he plays golf every weekend at one of several clubs he owns.
But you can’t get enough hours down at the Piggly Wiggly, and you think he feels your pain?
Your kids need dental work that you just can’t afford, and you believe he gets what that is like?
Your parents are in their seventies and eighties and still working 40 hours a week, and you’re certain he understands?
[bctt tweet=”For fun, he plays golf every weekend at one of several clubs he owns. But you can’t get enough hours down at the Piggly Wiggly, and you think he feels your pain?” username=”trifectablog”]
And it gets better. According to your theory of the case, he not only empathizes with the 99% of us who live without the benefit of $413 million in tax-free intergenerational wealth transfer, he also knows the real culprit for all of your problems.
No, it’s not that CEO pay has gone up 937% since 1978 while worker pay has gone up 11% over the same time. It’s not the businesses that outsource your job overseas. It’s not the tax code that dramatically favors wealth, investment, and estate transfers (e.g. how wealthy people make and keep money) over good ol’ fashioned earned income (e.g. paychecks, how the rest of us make money).
Nope. It’s none of that.
The real culprit is immigrants and minorities. They are (somehow) simultaneously lazy and living off of your taxes and taking your jobs away. That’s what makes them so very dangerous.
Oh, and don’t forget: those damned brown people are joining MS-13 in their spare time, in between working at your old job and standing in line at the welfare office. Industrious bunch, those immigrants. Too bad they’re not from Norway, amirite? In Oslo, there are hardly any El Salvadoran gangs that started in Los Angeles. It’s like a gangster-free paradise.
Starting to get the utter absurdity of Trump’s entire premise?
A rich white guy has tricked you into voting to protect the country against perceived brown enemies. And in successfully selling you that shitty frozen steak, he’s getting you to ignore all of the real enemies that actually harm your family’s well being:
- A tax code that favors rich people at everyone else’s expense.
- Lenders that saddle the country’s middle- and lower-class with insane debt.
- Spiraling tuition and fees, making college unaffordable for an ever-growing percentage of the population.
- Health insurers that decide your fate based on their own bottom lines.
- Lax environmental rules that let companies decide where to dump their toxic waste without regard to your family’s safety.
- Privatizing prisons, funneling tax dollars to companies with a profit motive to prevent rehabilitation and ensure recidivism.
- Endless, no-questions-asked, taxpayer-funded war…with no-bid contracts for big, pro-GOP companies like Halliburton and Koch.
In the end, Trump is banking that you’ll take the easy, illogical, frankly implausible answer over the obvious one. He’s hoping against hope that your racism will outweigh any chance of classism. He’s betting that you’re so eager to blame your shitty circumstances on someone other than one of your own that you won’t dig into what “one of your own” really means.
Because if you did dig in, even just a little, you’d see that the Scooby-Doo-villain-in-chief’s mask is obviously fake. He is not one of you, kids (and anthropomorphic talking dog). Not even close. We see it. The Harlem Globetrotters and Don Knotts see it. Phyllis Diller sees it.
And it’s so freaking obvious, once you see it, you’re going to spend the rest of your life embarrassed that you were so easily fooled.
So unless you want the old man from the abandoned amusement park to get away with it, you kids need to get mad and start meddling.
Like what you read? Want more right now? Try this one: 6 Lies About Immigrants Trump Hopes You Believe. Or maybe this’ll be better for you: Think Like A Conservative. I personally like this one a lot: Halloween Costumes For Snarky Bastards Like You.
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