A confident black person who doesn’t parrot traditional societal order is called a race-baiter. A self-assured female is labeled a bitch. A Native American who aspires to be more than a sports mascot is painted a trouble maker. A LGBT rights advocate has an agenda.
But, a rich, white male who speaks his mind with abandon is a viable presidential candidate.
Just what the hell is going on?
I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the era of white, male privilege. Donald Trump represents the middle finger of a class that is waning in power and prestige.
This country has elected a black man as president, and he has exceeded expectations in all areas, despite a relentless, concerted effort to ensure his failure by the privileged class to maintain the status quo.
For the first time in American history, there is a strong, female candidate running for the highest office in the land.
The Supreme Court affirmed the rights of gay and lesbian citizens, removing centuries of discrimination and stigma.
Immigration reform is giving new hope to Hispanic families who have grown to love the soil they’ve tilled for generations as uninvited, but economically convenient, guests.
Millions of poor families who did not have the benefit of quality, affordable health care a privileged status enabled now have access to basic coverage.
In the words of George Costanza, “worlds are colliding.”
Human beings by nature are primarily concerned with self preservation. Those classes who have risen to enjoy a privileged status have grown comfortable with being on the top of the food chain.
The bulk of the 18th to 20th centuries in America have overwhelming favored the white, European, Christian male as the privileged class. Even among the poor, if you were white and male, and didn’t attend a synagogue or mosque, you stood a better than average chance of improving your lot in life through hard work and strategic planning.
One phenomenon of self preservation is the tendency to keep company with those who share our basic traits, whether that is skin color, language, religion, gender or political organization. History has favored the current ruling class as the winner of life’s lottery for a variety of reasons: the accident of tillable soil, geographic mobility, coincidence of human invention, and genetic and societal adaptation.
The net result is that if one could associate with this favored class, success was a viable option. Success reinforces the notion of favored status, and when coupled with a divine providence, the defense of such privilege takes on militant and righteous fervor.
The latter part of the 20th century saw the yearning of the unfavored classes to acquire success and privilege for themselves. Leaders among these classes used the power of their increasing numbers and an appeal to the humanistic goals of the American experiment (all men are created equal) to leverage their way into a better life — the pursuit of happiness. Predictably, the currently favored classes fought to maintain the existing order, as they perceived the lower class rise to equality as a threat to their own happiness.
Slowly, but surely, these winds of change wrought a new order within the fruited plains. All of the successes enumerated above have come, as perceived by the ruling classes, at the expense of their presumed superiority.
So, when we hear “The Donald” lashing out at immigrants and minorities and the poor receiving “special favor” (how ironic), we are hearing the death pangs of a privileged species having to make way for a new order.
White, European males are still the majority by a very small margin. In some states – California, notably – this has already changed. But, nevertheless, I think the support of Donald Trump reflects a natural tendency toward self preservation.
The question for America is will we cave in to our animal instincts of self preservation, or rise to the higher evolved ideals of a society where all people are treated as equal, and we are judged by the merits of our actions and abilities regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or wealth?
The candidacy of Donald Trump is a litmus test for this experiment.
I hope and pray that we pass.