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'Donald Trump isn't a passing fad - he's a wake-up call to the world' - Eusebius McKaiser

Run Racist RunCould I Vote DA?A Bantu in My Bathroom

Eusebius McKaiser has written an article titled “The multiple meanings of Donald Trump”.

McKaiser is a political analyst, broadcaster, public speaker and lecturer, and the author of A Bantu In My Bathroom, Could I Vote DA? A Voter’s Dilemma and most recently Run Racist Run: Journeys Into The Heart Of Racism.

Read the article, which was shared by McKaiser on his Facebook Page:

* * * * *

The fact that a deeply misogynistic bigot and racist – call him Donald Trump – can even come this close to being the president of the US is disturbing.

He is ignorant, shameless, casually racist and xenophobic, and we know too now that he brags about assaulting women.

What does it mean that someone of such vicious character could come so close to being president of one of the most powerful and influential countries in the world?

Trump’s political trajectory exposes a lie that many Americans peddle, that theirs is the greatest nation on earth.

It isn’t. There is no “greatest nation on earth”. Such jingoistic sloganeering is aspirational at best, and dangerously egotistical at worst.

Dangerous because that kind of lie can make you feel surprised that a Donald Trump arrives on the political stage. In reality, America is a complex society with plenty of social and political demons it has yet to slay before any hyperbolic claims to greatness could even be half entertained.

Trump represents the worst of American society. If the idea of an American dream is hopeful, Trump symbolises the American nightmare.

But it would be a mistake to render him exceptional. Clearly, there’s a political market for bigotry, ignorance, misogyny and xenophobia.

And that is the meaning of Donald Trump that Americans will have to come to terms with. Politics is a popularity contest. And the rise of any particular politician or their ideological convictions tell you something about the political market within which they are succeeding.

Sure, he’s unlikely to actually become the next American president, but that doesn’t mean that any progressive citizen can relax and simply wait for the news cycle to move on after the presidential race has come and gone.

The social, political and discursive conditions that oxygenated the Trump campaign will remain for a long while still.

These range from people who feel disillusioned with mainstream politics, bigots with whom the Trump message resonates, patriarchs who secretly share his muscular display of misogyny, and segments of white working-class America that rightly or wrongly feels they are at the margins of society.

And that’s the ugly truth: democracy isn’t a bulwark against discontent. In all democracies there are winners and losers.

And American society is no different. It has multiple losers, from women who have to witness the rise of Trumpian misogyny, black people hunted by agents of racist institutions like the police force, immigrant families treated like temporary sojourners, and yes working-class and poor white folk who don’t know what it means in real material terms to live the American dream.

The winners are big business, famous families like the Clintons and the Bushes, and the beneficiaries of social networks that are sophisticated, deeply entrenched, and exclusionary.

This means that Trump isn’t a passing fad. Trump is a wake-up call to the world that liberal democracy is in crisis.

That too is the meaning of Trump. Trump could have been a right-wing politician in Western Europe. Trump could have been a leading campaigner for Brexit in the UK. Trump could have been an Australian prime minister keeping out boats of immigrants.

Trump represents an international reality we’ve yet to dramatise with the requisite urgency it demands.

That reality is that vile predatory politicians and faux politicians will prey on the discontent felt and experienced by millions of citizens who are losing faith in liberal democracy.

And there will be a market for Trump and future Trumps for as long as we delay a critical and honest conversation about the range of everyday, and structural, injustices that proliferate in democracies. We’re so busy trying to deliver the democratic model to undemocratic countries that we’ve fetishised democracy.

Not that there’s a better political system. But democracy doesn’t guarantee justice. And if we don’t centre justice in public discourse then democracy will continue to be under threat. And Trump will continue to be a successful predator.

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Book details

  • A Bantu in My Bathroom: Debating Race, Sexuality and Other Uncomfortable South African Topics by Eusebius McKaiser
    EAN: 9781920434373
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