Among the scare stories about Donald Trump and his supporters, my favorites are the ones that forecast a racial apocalypse if the Republican nominee loses.
Salon ran a story headlined: “Uh-oh: Where does all the white rage go when Donald Trump loses?” Rolling Stone had one that read: “Trump’s newly riled-up, racist supporters may not go gently into that good night.”
In these horror scenarios, it seems the writers know little about the white people they’ve turned into boogeymen.
“Trump’s base is so damn scary because it’s not so much made up of people with shared policy ideas,” Lincoln Blades wrote in Rolling Stone, “it’s more of a battalion filled with angry, mostly white folks who’ve been hungry for emancipation from the supposed scourges of political correctness and diversity. The reason Trump’s campaign events sell out . . . is because Trump and his campaign rallies offer attendees something no other candidate does, to quite the same extent: an unfettered taste of good ol’ fashioned bigotry.”
Such people predate Trump by 500 years, and during that time, black people have learned a lot about them.
Not all of them are racists. And for those who are racists, their views may not lead to threatening actions. When blacks and whites work on jobs where cooperation is a matter of life and death — such as in the military or on a construction site — people, no matter their beliefs, tend to find a way to get along.
What many of the post-Trump stories miss is the villain that lurks in the shadows.
Former labor secretary Robert Reich has been one of the few who dare to call it out:
“The real problem isn’t globalization or technological change per se,” Reich wrote in “What Trump Will Do When He Loses,” an opinion piece published in Newsweek in August. “It’s that America’s moneyed interests won’t finance policies necessary to reverse their consequences — such as a first-class education for all the nation’s young, wage subsidies that bring all workers up to a livable income, a massive ‘green’ jobs program and a universal basic income.”
The “moneyed interests,” meaning the extremely rich who own the politicians, manipulate Wall Street and exploit cheap labor worldwide at the expense of America’s working class.
But even Reich makes Trump supporters into something akin to flesh-eating zombies.
“Many of them angry and bigoted before his campaign, Trump supporters have become only more so under his tutelage,” Reich wrote.
He went on to cite a Southern Poverty Law Center survey of 2,000 schoolteachers who “recently found Trump’s campaign producing an ‘alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color’ and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom.
“Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets . . . on the campaign trail,” Reich wrote.
So, all of a sudden, white children have a newfound hate for black and brown children? They’ve been hearing Trump’s racist and misogynist speech for a little over a year. They’ve been living with their parents much longer.
For centuries, so-called populists like Trump have tried to create and perpetuate racial divisions for their own political and economic gain. Divide and conquer the working class by making whites feel superior to black people — even as the wealthy pick the pockets of both groups.
Then blame each for the other’s failure.
It’s not hard to see that the ripping-off of America’s middle class has been underway for at least 40 years. Many are understandably angry, although too often at the wrong villain. And unless black and white working-class people come together and stop falling for these political con games, that nightmare will continue.
To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/milloy.