If the Trump debacle has taught us anything, it is that the United States is not united at all. Even after one of the bloodiest civil wars ever fought within a country’s borders, after decades of civil rights struggles, after two world wars, after generations of Americans have looked back at the sins of their ancestors, we remain a deeply divided nation.
Throughout the twentieth century, we pretended to be something unique in the world, a large country where people of many races, religions and ethnicities lived together in harmony and worked side by side for the common good. It was wonderfully aspirational, but never a reality. It only worked in theory, as long as minorities, immigrants, women and other groups of non-white males accepted their place in the hierarchy of our patriarchal society. The deep cracks in the foundation of this country, on both the left and the right, were papered over with copies of the constitution that no one had any other use for.
The Trump campaign ripped off the flimsy façade of American exceptionalism, exposing the lingering rot and decay of racism, sexism, misogyny and xenophobia among our country’s resentful middle and lower-class whites. There is one thing that Trump is truly an expert at, and that is manipulating and channeling people’s anger. His skill was evident during the presidential campaign, as he publically buried “political correctness” and gave whites permission to vent their frustrations and hostilities in public for the world to see.
The result has been an ugly and embarrassing spectacle, not to mention the Trump as president thing. Despite the best efforts of the Founding Fathers, ignorance won the day, and a despot ascended to highest office in the land. Our country is as openly divided as it has been since the Civil War. The next four years could very well determine whether we remain the United States of America.