Yesterday, Joe Biden gave a speech in Burlington, Iowa where he criticized Donald Trump for failing to condemn white supremacy. Biden accused Trump of “fanning the flames.” Biden’s seminal message was that Donald trump is encouraging white supremacy. All we have to do is beat Trump, and things can return to a more normal state of affairs. Biden’s too simplistic message misses the point.
Donald Trump isn’t the cause of white supremacy in America. White supremacy has a long history of driving American politics. America’s history books are filled with examples of American history being sanitized to keep white people from having to confront the reality that race-based discrimination and oppression has been a feature–not a bug-of American life since the inception of America.
Donald Trump foments white supremacy, xenophobia, sexism and every other trait that can be used to inflame the passions of those desiring a society built around heterosexual white male privilege. But Donald Trump didn’t introduce that kind of hatred and division into American politics. Donald Trump is simply too stupid to use the dogwhistles Republicans have been blowing for decades.
Defeating Donald Trump is absolutely critical. Replacing him with someone who doesn’t recognize and thus can’t address the long, deep history of oppression that has defined American life is insufficient. This is the biggest problem with Biden’s campaign. No progressive wants to return to 2015. Progressives understand that 2015 was better than 1965, but 2015 was not good enough.
We can’t reject Donald Trump in favor of an era that left too many behind and where if one was born a heterosexual white male gave them a far better shot at achieving the American dream.
Donald Trump must be defeated. But only if Donald Trump is defeated by a revolution intent on changing the systems of sexism, racism, ableism, xenophobia, and capitalism will America finally begin to create the society too many white Americans believe we already have.