An American president personifies our nation. In the eyes of the world, of history, especially in the eyes of Americans ourselves, the human being in the Oval Office embodies the nation as a whole.
One of the many reasons so many Americans flipped their collective shit for eight years, accepting with full credence the wildest forms of nonsense about the Black Man in “their” White House, was because President Obama did not reflect “their” America: a land where white folks ruled by virtue and force in a literally God-given land where all of “those people” – y’know, the queers and women and liberals, the Muslims and the Jews and everybody else who did not look and think like them – knew their place. The eloquent, genial, dark-skinned man with an African name and a brain he was not afraid to use in public frightened those people out of their minds because he and his family defied the reality they had been raised to accept. Clearly, then, he was an interloper. A foreigner. An anchor-baby. An Antichrist. In many ways, President Obama was the end of the world as those people knew it because his presence in the White House – in defiance of a rich white businessman, a revered white war hero, and a bizarre human culture-clash between stylish prosperity and white-trash roots – for the better part of a decade undermined the very order of their lives. Thus, Obama had to be a monster. A lie. A terroristic fabrication sent to destroy American greatness. To accept otherwise was to admit their vision of America was wrong.
In response, these people chose a man who made political hay with the accusation that President Obama was not American. They flocked to him when he declared Mexicans to be criminals. They cheered when he gave his followers permission to rough people up, especially if the people they roughed up were Black. They’re still chanting “BUILD THE WALL!” as a reflex because hate, ignorance and extravagant division are the only answers they have left when confronting a diverse and complicated world.
To such people, America is only great when a big white man is in charge.
And so we’ve gone from Obamamerica to Trumpmerika – a radical change that strains the seams of our society. In place of a smart, classy, geek with dark skin and boundless patience, Trump’s electorate chose a blustering, crude, willfully ignorant bigot with Germanic blood and a sputtering temper. This man, and his administration (most especially his VP: a pernicious gaslighter who revealed the ultimate tone of Trump’s counter-factual administration when he drove his debate opponent up the wall by calmly denying realities that are part of the public record) are living refutations of the idea that America belongs to anyone but belligerent white folks. Sure, Trump has an ever-dwindling handful of non-white and/ or non-male functionaries; everybody knows, however, that Big White Daddy is in charge. In Trump they trust.
And so when he talks about selling warplanes that don’t actually exist outside of a video game… well, that must be true.
And when he says he never said what he’s on video saying… well, then, clearly he isn’t lying. Or crazy. The crazy liar must be some stupid Left Coast libotard.
And when he declares whole nations full of human beings to be “shitholes” full of “very bad hombres,” and makes penile metaphors for nuclear genocide, Trump is just “talking tough” and “telling it like it is.”
For a small but vocal percentage of Americans, this is their Great America: a land that takes no shit off anyone, run by a master businessman whose position of power returns the United States to white normalcy, without those creeping fears of a dark-skinned interloper who’s too big for his britches and too smart for his own good.
For the rest of us, however, it’s a disgrace.
Trump is an embarrassing embodiment of the American Id: loud, egotistical, living a gold-leaf illusion of tacky prosperity at everyone else’s expense.
It remains to be seen, I guess, whether the better America – an America built on diversity and vision – will emerge from yet another age of division, or whether the innate contradictions of a freedom-loving nation built on slavery will devour whatever’s left of the American experiment for good.