The Landed and the White

How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump

The Landed and the White
Caleb Walsh illustration

To think that an egotistical, ethnocentric, rich white guy is going to be sworn in as president is par for the course. Historically speaking, besides President Obama, this is exactly who Americans vote for time and time again. This guy just happens to tweet his every elementary thought and is a little more vulgar in his racism, sexism and xenophobia than most.

The sensibilities of liberals and progressives all over the country are in shock. Many are in denial, even angry, that Donald Trump is our next president. And in many ways it is astounding, for it seemed that Hillary Clinton's win was assured, despite deep party division and the loss of so many Bernie Sanders supporters over the controversial Democrat primary. But then Trump won, not by popular vote, but by the Electoral College. And so, because of a relic from the slavery era, he is our next president.

As a woman of color, I am morbidly curious as to why so many people are shocked by Trump's win. Why is this a shock? How can you not see how possible it is for a man with not a moral or ethical bone in his body to become president of our country? We live in a country where a system of oppression works against most Americans: people of color, people in poverty, even the working class.

This is also a country where more people die at the hands of protectors of the community — already in 2017, there have been 25 police-involved citizen deaths. We incarcerate more people than any other country, with 716 of every 100,000 people jailed. A majority of them are people of color. There are more than 15 million children living in poverty in America. One out of 6 women in America are victims of sexual assault, and it's even worse if you are from a marginalized community — 1 in 3 Native American women are sexually assaulted.

So no, it's not a shock that our system made a man with no respect for women, no respect for our press, no respect for people of color, and no respect for the working class the most powerful elected official in the world. To me, and clearly to Trump, he fits the legacy of the President of the United States perfectly.

I hear a lot of people trying to negotiate with those who voted for Trump about his financial conflict of interest. Again, I laugh to myself. Literally, there has never been a president who didn't have self-interest in the policies and laws which he supports. I'm sure if we dug deep enough, we could even find something with President Obama. And we can't seriously expect that to happen until we get money out of politics.

Call me cynical, call me a glass-half-empty kind of gal, but I have always known the position of the Presidency, any position of power in America, is for the landed and the white. This is the system we all agree to every day. And until the majority of Americans wake up and demand public-funded elections, demand the eradication of the Electoral College, demand Citizens United be undone, the possibility of more Trumps is guaranteed.

As the daughter of the first people of this great country, I can tell you that we will survive a Trump presidency like the indigenous people of America have been surviving presidents like him for 228 years. We will learn from it. And we will see how very strong and resilient we truly are as a country. ♦

Tara Dowd, an enrolled Inupiaq Eskimo, was born into poverty and now owns a diversity consulting business. She is an advocate for systemic equity and sees justice as a force that makes communities better.

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Wed., March 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
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