Reading Nancy Isenberg's book, "White Trash" brought to mind a disturbing story I heard on NPR one morning. It was told by a white man from Mississippi about his father. When this man was about 8 years old, a neighboring farmer, a Black man, got a new mule and with that mule he was able to plow his fields admirably straight. Driving by those immaculate fields with his father, the boy remarked how good the fields looked. The father said nothing, but the next day the boy heard someone had shot the Black farmer's mule.
"Did you shoot that mule?" he asked his father.
"'Cause if I'm no better than some nigger, then what am I?"
|Just Wild for Adolph|
That story encapsulated for me the importance of "pecking order," in American society. The poor, the uneducated need somebody below them to disparage. If they cannot feel superior by virtue of having gone to Princeton, well, then at least they can feel good about being white. You may be out of work, or working at some dead end job under the yoke of some boss, but you are at least not a Mexican wet back sneaking into America. You belong. You make America great by your very presence.
|70 years later; Just wild for Donnie John|
This is much of what underlies the deep resentment of President Obama, an uppity Black if ever there was one, a man so intelligent, articulate, one of the best writers to have ever been President, a man of such virtue the only way to attack him is by attacking his origins--born in Kenya.
There was that sign I saw in rural New Hampshire: "Somewhere in Kenya, a village has lost its idiot." Only one possible explanation for that sign. You know what the guy who put up that sign is like.
Which means the usual "ground game" of trying to go door to door to persuade people is doomed in this election. Either people have understood the appeal of Mr. Trump as the man who says, "You are what makes America great, that is, white," or they have not.
Of course, there are also the Bernie or Bust crowd enthusiasts, who are just as pernicious in their own self importance, but numerically, they are not as important.
The fact is, this election is not so much an election as a census, a referendum. How many of our fellow citizens are prepared to shoot that mule?