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US chicken come home to roost

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THE LAST WORD: By Andrew M. Mwenda

How Trump won not because he violated American values but because he upheld American vices

This week, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to win the US presidency. This is especially intriguing because Trump had been vilified by America’s powerful weapons of mass propaganda; the gigantic corporate owned and controlled media. Every pundit, journalist, academic and politician of any heft came out to denounce him including fellow Republican Party heavyweights. Trump just didn’t care: he belittled his Republican critics, insulted the journalists, denigrated women and threatened ethnic minorities. The elite accused him of “violating” every code of “American values.”

Yet in spite of all this, and I think also because of it, Trump won. Contrary to widespread media propaganda that he was largely supported by poorly educated rural white males, Trump got 50% of the vote of college educated males, 53% of white women, 29% of Hispanics, 8% of African Americans (polls had given him 2%) etc. In practically every voter segment where we had been told he would poll poorly, Trump proved media doomsayers wrong and outperformed former Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

The point is US citizens know their politicians very well – their hypocrisy, lies and deceit when they openly feign values or being liberal-democratic, inclusive and post racial. These politicians – both Republican and Democratic – subtly and strategically indulge in racial pandering to win votes. To many Americans, Trump was not different from other politicians except that he was frank in expressing overtly what US politicians say and do with subtlety – using coded racial language to secure the support of white voters. These politicians are foxes in sheepskins.

In spite of the well-choreographed narrative of liberal democratic values, the USA state is an instrument of a small wealthy, white patriarchal order

Trump won not because he understood the fears and prejudices of white America better than his opponents but because he expressed them bluntly and more candidly. He understands that people do not vote to express policy preferences per se but rather as members of particular groups – racial, regional, religious, or even ideological. White America is suffering from anxiety insecurity resulting from low household incomes that have not grown in real terms since 1973. He became the choice for American white voters because he appealed to their prejudices more honestly and bluntly than his opponents.

In spite of the well-choreographed narrative of liberal democratic values, the USA state is an instrument of a small wealthy, white patriarchal order. However the system is sophisticated and adapts to changing circumstances – not through a genuine reform of its core character – but through cosmetic adjustments to its external appearance. Hence in appearance the state in America looks inclusive, colorblind, liberal democratic and gender sensitive. But this only disguises the racial propertied patriarchal structure that forms its foundation.

America’s white, wealthy patriarchal order has always successfully resisted any fundamental reform of this system. Whenever reform has been successfully attempted, it has equally and quickly been reversed. Thus when America abolished slavery in 1865, it was immediately followed by convict leasing, a brutal system that was worse than slavery, alongside Jim Crow, America’s version of apartheid. Major civil rights legislation of 1965 has also been reversed and replaced with mass incarceration where one in every three of black males is destined to go to jail in their lifetime. So, today more African Americans cannot vote.

I prayed for him to win not because I shared his values but for subversive reasons because he would help the world see America for what it really is

Politicians from both the Republican and Democratic side have been instrumental in promoting these racist laws and practices all aimed at keeping ethnic minorities – blacks and Hispanics – in their place as a racial under caste. Trump is the quintessential embodiment of the character of this state. I prayed for him to win not because I shared his values but for subversive reasons because he would help the world see America for what it really is. By removing the sophistication, the Trump presidency may launch a genuine movement for real reform of the American state and its vices.

Trump is a product and beneficiary of this rich white patriarchal order. He understands the system so well and how to game it. Once in office, the different institutions of that power structure will force him to govern through the same hypocrisy, lies and deceit they have always used. This is because they know it is dangerous to govern with the overt bigotry he used to campaign. So we are most likely going to see Trump begin to use racially coded language like the rest of them.

Yet America and the world need Trump to govern exactly as he campaigned. Overt bigotry can ignite international hostility and internally, a social movement for genuine reform. America is blessed with many high-minded people of all races who would like to see fundamental reform of the status quo. But they have limited legroom to promote their cause because on the face of it, the system wears the mask of fairness, equality of opportunity, democracy, inclusiveness etc. In fact many Americans who would otherwise be critical of the system acquiesced to its vices for their own good.

Thus, to openly oppose the status quo is to invite heavy sanctions whereby you are denied access to opportunities for self-advancement. If you are a journalist no major media house will employ you or publish or broadcast your views if they diverge from the grand narrative of America being beacon of democracy. You get sidelined to small and inconsequential media outlets. If you are an academic, you may be lucky to keep your seat at a major university. But you will be systematically marginalized, your research will not find funders and your writings will not find space in mainstream and “respected” journals or publishing houses. So you will be relegated to the sidelines from where you will once in a rare while be invited to a seminar or conference or media house to give your views – not so much that they can be heard or even give an appearance of balance and diversity – but to show the world that there exists a minority and lunatic fringe within American society which, because of liberal democracy, is tolerated.

I have interacted with Americans from the highest politicians and businesspersons to the most prominent journalists and academics. The journalists, especially those in mainstream powerful media, are less thoughtful but the academics in the best universities are. Most hold back their true beliefs if only to be accepted by the system. The system, though outwardly liberal and democratic, is tightly controlled to systematically suppress divergent views. It is highly sophisticated in that it suppresses alternative views without being overtly repressive.

For decades, politicians on both the right and left in America, backed by concentrated wealth, have used coded racial appeals to win white voters. Once in power, they have pursued policies that help large corporations and the super-rich to become even richer while impoverishing the poor and the middle classes. Race has been used to forestall class solidarity between poor working and middle class whites and other ethnic minorities, the majority of whom are poor or middleclass.

Consequently, there has been no real growth in average household income in USA since 1973 in spite of considerable economic growth. This racial politics has reached its apogee in Trump. But it is wrong to see Trump as an oddity. His actual contribution is to bring into the open what American politicians across that nation’s political spectrum have been doing – indulging in racial pandering to secure white votes. Trump may be a crude representative of this kind of politics but he is not its architect. It has been the politics of America for decades.

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12 comments

  1. While I agree with the underlying argument, there is need to acknowledge certain virtues within the American social structure. In other words, although the US is not as heavenly as it’d want us to believe, there are certain basic tenets that are worth cherishing. Other important issues I expected Mwenda to tackle are: (1) What does the triumph of Trump mean for American soft power, which undergirds the global empire? (2) If Trump gets his way and the international commitments are reduced, what does that mean for the international system, given that power abhors vacuums? (3) For a poor country like Uganda, what does it mean for local politics if the dominant state in the world is led by a self-confessed pervert?

    • Godfreyb Ssekajja wrote: “While I agree with the underlying argument, there is need to acknowledge certain virtues within the American social structure. In other words, although the US is not as heavenly as it’d want us to believe, there are certain basic tenets that are worth cherishing.” To compare the US, a developed capitalist country and Uganda, a peripheral capitalist country is to totally miss the point. It is almost like wishing one’s cow were a goat; the two are different animals and one cannot be turned into the other.

  2. A Donald Trump Presidency symbolises 3rd world war. Strikes and demonstrations are to eat away the currently fragile American economy and in the process the Trump empire will collapse. I have talked about the apocalypse (Revelations: 16 -18) in this diabolic scuffle, the United states, Russia and the U.K will fight on one side (including India and Israel) against the rest. I also talked about the process of political anacyclosis which
    follows: From Monarchy to- Kingship to- Tyranny to- Aristocracy to- Oligarchy
    to- Democracy then- mob rule. Very soon we will be witnessing the crushing of the wall street and we shall be talking about the mafioso later.

  3. Mr. Mwenda – America you do not know – your article is out to lunch and misses who voted Trump into the presidency – the neglected and ignored White Evangelicals, who are not racist as a lot, though some individuals may be – those same evangelicals who send teams to aid Ugandan churches and projects each year…those Americans not in DC and NYC which does not share their beliefs…average Christ believing Americans who chose Trump not because of his Charisma but the supreme court appointments, Clinton’s stance on abortion – shared bathrooms with the transgender community – the ability of the church to have a public voice…Americans that share more the values with Ugandans when it comes to morality…plus the strong believing catholics that were abhorred by the abortion stance of Clinton – and everyone was tired of the Emperor who made laws without congress with a phone and pen…the respected Obama who did less for Africa ( he did inspire Africans) than George W. Bush who at least visited Uganda. Sorry Mr. Mwenda – there is another America that you do not know…that is not racist – Trump in spite of all of his stupid rhetoric got more of the Black Vote ad Latin vote than did Mitt Romney….stay being an expert on Uganda – you might know NYC or DC but not America from sea to shining sea or fly-over country Americans…on us elections you get an F by merely reflecting and mouthing the clearly anti- Trump media on the left – Trump supporter- no, I was for Bernie Sanders but your article so missed the point – it was the people of Faith including the Billy Graham family, that got him elected.

  4. In keeping with the argument that conservative evangelical Christian America voted for Trump, in spite of race, gender or education level, i believe the hypocrisy shown by evangelical Christianity in America signals its end. Millennials will not be forgiving of the mean spirited candidacy that evangelical Christians propelled to power.

    The philosophy that accepts racial overtones, bigotry, sexual assault and moral indecency, just so you can place a lid on abortion rights or marriage equality, may win an election, but the population demographics do not support its sustainability. Hillary Clinton, leading the popular vote by 1.8 million and still counting, has resurrected the woman emancipation movement. This movement is now fused with proponents of racial equality / BLM, immigrant tolerance, gay rights, and millennial assertiveness. All the people at risk of intolerant behaviour in America are fusing into one progressive agenda.

    The protesters i see in these anti-Trump protests are majority young and majority white. They are in colleges and high schools and cities. They will only be emboldened by the racial injustices, intolerance towards immigrants and sexual assault. Where a single shooting of a black man poured hundreds n the streets, imagine the protests when immigrants start getting deported, or the white supremacists starts targeting minorities, or women report counts of sexual abuse….! These may appear as anti-Trump protests for now, but make no mistake, its a movement marching towards a more progressive and more inclusive America. There is nothing that propels a movement like an injustice. In this case, there are lots of issues that will keep this movement alive. The popular vote victory is all the justification they need; the actions of the FBI are the vindication of injustice and abuse of power. Not a single law enforcement agency will appear to have the moral authority.

    On the one hand, White America that sought to assert itself, now donning safety pins, will once more cower under the pressure of association as multiple segments of minority America are targeted. On the other hand, evangelical Christianity will always bear the brunt for all moral disaster in society. In the end, the progressive movement will grow so strong with the rise of millennials that conservatives may well have won their last election – for a long time to come. And yes, … the President-Elect shouldn’t be popping the champagne just yet!

  5. 1.We have learnt these lessons from the USA elections(i) People are fed up of issues of ideology.(as if its a cult) Adhola hope you will tone down on UPC Ideology and Maraxsim(ii)The voting system in USA is faulty here in Ug votes are counted like money how do you convince someone that her candidate got more votes but a few states determine the winner of an election?
    2.The following qns should answered about the lugogo shooting(i)Did the suspect officially apply for a gun?(ii) Which Kampala man would rather spend his weekend in hospital than in a bar?(iii)Kanyamunyu was the target of assassination

    • Winnie wrote: “1.We have learnt these lessons from the USA elections(i) People are fed up of issues of ideology.(as if its a cult) Adhola hope you will tone down on UPC Ideology and …” You are as ignorant about ideology as Museveni.

  6. 1.Women have not yet politically economically and socially stabilized and men seem not to give a damn .We all saw how Trump traumatized Clinton,Dillma of Brazil was impeached by men,Merkel is having it rough in Germany,Park in S.Korea is almost gone in Ug Rugasira cant give Ms.Olivia Kigongo breathing space.
    2.I saw Ugandans “forcing” a tribal war using the internet coz of the Lugogo shooting as if it would have been better for a person from another tribe to be have been shot dead but not one from the north.
    3.How did OJ Simpson win the murder case? (i)the blood stained gloves at the scene of crime could not fit his hands(ii)Mark Fuhram the detective who was was incharge of the crim e scene made a racist remark about blacks this affected the case as well dont be surprised if the tribal sentiments influence this case.
    4 The Luggogo shooting is a 1st class case of a good Samaritan complex; but these issues might save him;(i)IHis lawyers need to get a print out of Akena’s Mini Statement to ascertain the time he used the ATM and whether he used the ATM at Lugogo .(ii) How much time did Akena take during the ATM transaction and the alleged shooting so that we ascertain the time he was rushed to hospital.(iii)If the time was short then there is a possibility that Akena was shot and Mathew was indeed a good Samaritan.(iv) Was the car Mathew driving his?if no could the owner of the car have be on the hit list of some one?(v)Was Akena’s car obstructing a hitman?(vi)Has Mathew ever reported to police that his life was in danger?(vii)How can the mistrey of no trace blood be explained? (viii)Mathew’s actions indicates that he did not use a gun coz those who own guns normally are so cautious they believe any one who comes close to them wants to kill them(ix) Mathew had all the time to flee the scene of crime since it was dark why did he chose to take Akena to hospital?you think he does not know the consequence of using an illegal gun?

  7. Mwenda wrote: “Trump won not because he understood the fears and prejudices of white America better than his opponents but because he expressed them bluntly and more candidly. He understands that people do not vote to express policy preferences per se but rather as members of particular groups – racial, regional, religious, or even ideological. White America is suffering from anxiety insecurity resulting from low household incomes that have not grown in real terms since 1973. He became the choice for American white voters because he appealed to their prejudices more honestly and bluntly than his opponents.”

    If Mwenda really wants to understand this vote, he should go and watch the movie Forrest Gump or read the book. Donald Trump is nothing but Forrest Gump. For those who can’t get both just read the reviews. Please read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrest_Gump

    • 1.Adhola all this time i thought you were a former rebel leader i was surprised that you once held a decent job in Ug.
      2.Who does not know that the NRM ideology is original?do you know how many nations have come to bench mark the NRM system?
      3.Interms of politics USA has now become a third world state who does not know that the recent elections was all about gropping women and Hilary’s email scandal?

      • Winnie wrote: “1.Adhola all this time i thought you were a former rebel leader i was surprised that you once held a decent job in Ug.” Get to know that long before you joined the NRM, I had disembarked from the yellow bus. I was a found member of Fronasa. I was in the Central Committee of Fronasa in the early seventies. however, I transcended it when I read the book, “New Theories of Revolution” by Jack Woddis.

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