Warning—I’m about to use the n-word.
Actually, Ta-Nehisi Coates uses it to put in the starkest terms his argument that white supremacy is the core of Donald Trump’s bitter Presidency:
For Trump, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president [Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The First White President,” The Atlantic, October 2017].
Damon Linker in The Week says white supremacy can’t fully explain the rise of Trump. Amanda Marcotte offers a second leg for the awful Trumpist stool: a reaction to the decline of the fundamentalist Christian white male patriarchy:
Trump may be an unrepentant sinner, but he is a supporter of this patriarchal worldview, where straight men are in charge, women are quiet and submissive and people who fall outside these old-school heterosexual norms are marginalized. Voting for him was an obvious attempt by white evangelicals to impose this worldview on others, including (and perhaps especially) their own children, who are starting to ask hard questions about a moral order based on hierarchy and rigid gender roles instead of one built on empathy and kindness [Amanda Marcotte, “White Christians Are Now a Minority—But They’re Getting More Isolated and Less Tolerant,” Salon, 2017.09.11].
We can hope that Trump’s brilliant ignition of these vile fires will burn out the fervor of the racists and sexists who propelled him to the White House… or at least ignite the political conscience of the growing majority who find white patriarchy unacceptable and propel a new, decent candidate to the Presidency in 2020.