• Win Hammond

Stand Up and Stand Dead: Trump's Potential Martyrdom

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Literature is extremely satisfying for me. Nothing is better than seeing the ironic downfall of a villain and the catharsis that comes in later as a result, and lately, American politics have had their fair share of literary irony. In a twist of fate, our president may die due to the virus he downplayed and killed 200k people as a result. As of October 1, President Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump both contracted COVID-19. Conditions only got worse as the next day, he was transferred to Walter Reed hospital in critical condition. How will history remember Trump? A president hell-bent on defending hate groups, or as a neoliberal symbol akin to Ronald Reagan? This will remain to be seen, but nevertheless, we should all strap in for the next forty years of his economic and symbolic legacy.

Anyone paying attention will know the prevalence of right-wing extremism within the last four or five years. In 2016, in particular, I remember sifting through the endless amount of anti-SJW Youtube videos that poked fun at uninformed college students made by 4chan grifters. Trump’s run for presidency seemed to come right in time to capitalize on it, and as a result, we now have to deal with the radicalization of primarily white men and other young people similarly indoctrinated by the paradigm shift the internet experienced before the 2016 presidential election.

Some prominent calamities of Trump’s campaign are the death of Heather Heyer amidst the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville with prominent figures in attendance like former KKK grand dragon David Duke, white nationalist Richard Spencer, crying Nazi Christopher Cantwell, and of course, the Proud Boys founded by Gavin Mcinnes. McInnes was also part of the anti-SJW paradigm on Youtube previously mentioned.

Trump will no doubt have a legacy similar to Reagen’s. One that mentions all of the great speeches and charisma, but will leave out the worse parts. Like Reagen’s war on drugs and welfare queen rhetoric, the future may try to erase the xenophobia, and “fine people on both sides” rhetoric abused by Trump. What I mean by this is Trump’s reluctance to denounce white supremacists. Instead of opting for a statement as uncontroversial as “racism is bad,” he opts to mobilize his and his opponents’ bases, riling up trouble in places like Portland which has become a de facto hotbed for far-right and antifascist clashes. Kids in the next forty years will watch similar grifters online talk about Trump’s supposed greatness, his economic policy, and the no-nonsense approach to left-wing opposition like antifascism. Curious that Trump is so opposed to anti-fascism. We must remember him for who he is and the last days of hopefully his presidency, and possibly his life.

In discussing his legacy, I do not want to promote a message that Trump was an anomaly to our democracy -- he did not happen to us, we earned him. Our neoliberal status quo has ceaselessly allowed a ‘diversity in thought’ rhetoric that gave way to such a xenophobic figure. Instead of being intolerant to intolerance, we allowed Trump to become our president and leave fertile soil for hate groups to sprout. In an ideal society, we would be able to look back on the poor families, BIPOC, and Afghans disenfranchised by a similar candidate in the 1980s. Instead, we allowed it to become the model for the modern right-wing and liberalism.

Our only remedy to neoliberalism is anti-capitalism because of its effects on American democracy. Since Reagen’s presidency and his Red Scare rhetoric, we have developed into a neoliberal society that perpetuates ideas of social equality but promotes capitalism, an economic system that entails a hierarchy for the privileged. Politics and economics are intertwined, and over the centuries of mercantilism, colonization, and imperialism, verbal racism is not the only culprit of the political calamity we find ourselves in today.

I understand this feels like a stretch, but really, the centuries of inequality in America's economy has brought us where we are today. The enslavement of Africans and the exploitation of the continent on top of the events that followed—including but not limited to the Jim Crow South and gentrification—clarifies why White America is so rich compared to its darker complexioned neighbors domestically and internationally. But how does this relate to our current Commander in Chief? As I have previously mentioned, neoliberalism perpetuates the status quo, and for debatably forty years now, has promoted a narrative of social equality, but not economic. As a direct result, oppression becomes less obvious when not considering the vast gap between the poorest of the poor or even the middle class, to the richest of the rich. For neoliberalism, this gap is how the economy is meant to be. We witness this structure failing now, however, where public services like ambulances become the more expensive choice compared to a taxi or Uber -- or how the Black and Hispanic median income is over 20k less than the median white income.

I present this not only as a doctrine for more left-wing economics but also as a call for education. Our society and its philosophy form intellectual pitfalls, and it is up to the knowledgeable to educate the ignorant about these pitfalls. It is not enough to change verbiage like 'master bedroom’ or have diverse leaders like a woman vice president or chief justice. This does not even have to be a revolution to communism or socialism, but as long as neoliberalism survives people like Reagen and Trump will continue to be elected into power and will be remembered as martyrs for the American dream.

Image credit: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-09-30/proud-boys-joe-biggs-portland