The Fear of Donald Trump’s Playbook
Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Stringer/Getty Images

The Fear of Donald Trump’s Playbook

Our politics can be complex, but Donald Trump is not a riddle —…

Leave it to this country and the year 2020 to make even victory miserable.

By Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden had received more votes than any presidential candidate in history. Joe Biden, of all people. According to the Associated Press, at 2:38 p.m. that day, the former vice president amassed 70,330,000 votes — breaking Barack Obama’s 2008 record of 69,500,000 votes. Those votes for Biden accounted for more than 50% of the total number of votes counted so far, with the percentage looking to widen as votes in states across the West were fully counted.

Wasn’t that Biden’s whole shtick? That he and he alone could beat Donald Trump? I didn’t buy it, but Joe told me.

I should feel relieved that the nightmare is technically over, even thanks to a traditionally boring politician. I told myself earlier in the campaign that at least there’s Kamala Harris—who wasn’t above criticism as a politician but nonetheless was treated noticeably differently—potentially making history as the first woman, Black woman, and Asian woman to serve as vice president. We both went to Howard, and yes, I like that very much. I genuinely appreciate that my politics-loving niece can now look to Kamala and see that the vice presidency and the presidency are no longer unreachable for her.

It appears that I’m going to get the chance to see what she does. Yet, the fact that the race was so close makes it difficult to find any happiness in what already felt like yet another unfair compromise for survival in America.

Biden’s popular-vote tally is already tainted by the Electoral College, an institution whose racist roots and practices continue to thwart any real attempts at a functional democracy (see: the present chaos) — and that’s before you consider that Donald Trump managed to get even more votes than he did the last time.

How fucked up is that?

Yes, a dumb sociopathic racist piece of shit will no longer be president of the United States of America. But I’m astounded by the fact that Trump is more popular than ever. Not only did he get more votes overall, but — at least according to exit polls — Trump apparently got a larger share of the White vote, the Latino vote (which is poorly categorized, but I digress), and a small but noticeable uptick in Black votes, led by Black men.

Polling in this country is officially not worth shit, but these numbers are sadly easy to believe. Despite fucking up everything in this country, including mishandling a once-in-a-century pandemic, he got more votes than he did the first time. A man like this gaining support only leaves me feeling one thing: Damn, they hate us that much.

That may sound like an oversimplification. Yes, there are many complexities within the electorate. Yes, media and tech companies play a role in this, perpetuating false equivalencies and amplifying the very misinformation they breed. (That’s how you have millions of people in this country believing Democrats are a child-trafficking sex cult.) And Democrats continue to fail many of the groups they try to blame for their pitfalls — rarely if ever owning up to their mistakes.

However, this is Donald Trump. Everyone knows who that man is and all he represents.

This is not hard to figure out. Our politics can be complex, but Donald Trump is not a riddle.

All this man did throughout the campaign is continue to do what he’s always done: ask people to choose Whiteness. Howl about Black people ruining suburbia. Stoke fears of “looters” ruining cities. Plague or not, enough White people will run to it every single time. Even the ones who voted for Barack Obama once upon a time.

After all, they were introduced to Obama in 2004, when he told them of an America that never quite existed — and was rewarded for it by rampant racism, from the start of his administration to a successor who continually tried to taint his legitimacy.

A man like this gaining support only leaves me feeling one thing: Damn, they hate us that much.

Donald Trump is only telling the truth when he’s being racist. He continues to be rewarded by a White electorate. There are some goofy non-White people who will never, ever be treated like those White folks tagging along on their cause no matter how much they all profess their disdain at the rallies. Those types might cite “ownership” or “taxes” or some other selfish excuse, but it’s them choosing to be on the side they think will always win.

Fuck them, but I want to focus on the main culprit. No matter what is said in the press, this is on White people. As it always is. We did our part. They failed us once again — in the same year that Black Lives Matter became the largest social justice movement in history.

I didn’t kid myself into thinking the Republican Party was going to be any less racist should Trump lose his reelection bid. I can easily imagine Tucker Carlson becoming a future presidential nominee. The GOP loves a showboating racist, and going from a reality star to a television host is a smooth transition.

However, we are going to have to deal with Donald Trump for even longer than I imagined. His unyielding popularity suggests that people would rather choose the comforting lies he tells them than their own eyes. (Already, aides are talking about Trump running again in 2024.)

I knew I would never forgive Trump voters for what they did in 2016. Now I have even more reason to be resentful, even fearful. After everything, White people supporting him this much now means they might be willing to do so in greater numbers once again.

Donald Trump didn’t lose because he was racist; racism is his brand, and the brand is fucking strong. But it can only get him so far. He might be too stupid to understand that, but he also might have four years to learn — and if not him, then the next president who uses his playbook.