The emotional toll of dealing with a toxic president

Crazy Faith Ministries

In a word, this president is wearying to the soul.

It is not that he is something new to the American story. Historian Jon Meacham said that America’s national greatness was “built on explicit and implicit apartheid.” White supremacy has been the bane and the scourge of America’s very existence; White Americans, though basking in their erroneous belief in their own superiority are nonetheless very insecure, afraid of losing their faux power, their faux belief system with its attendant way of life, and their hold over everything and everyone, necessary, they believe, to keep things “as they should be.”

Maybe not all people, but many knew what this president meant when he said he would “make America great again.” People knew that was a euphemism for what was the real desire: “make America White again.” This president’s base basked in the thought; those who felt themselves “above” the base basked as well, although they did so more quietly. The yoke of white supremacy has never loosened its grip on the American psyche. There were too many changes going on. It was time to get back to the way Conservatives believed things should be, and one of the first things to put in place was the correct balance of power. Black and brown people were making too many gains. It was time to set things right …er White …again.

This president recognized and lived in the tension caused by the thing that made America what it is: its pluralism. America’s greatness, or a great part of it, was celebrated and respected because this was the one country where people of different colors and races and religions could live side by side, all permitted to “be” who and what they were. But in a country where the supremacy of “whiteness” was written into the very founding documents, this pluralism was a problem almost from the outset.

Over the years, the country has ebbed and flowed as people of color and women and most recently, people with different sexualities have fought for and won pieces of American citizenship of which they had been denied because of who they were, but with each gain came a simmering rage from the White populace – from the very rich to the very poor – who believed that this country was meant to be for White people, most accurately for White men. The shift of the supposed balance of power was and has been frightening and maddening for those who believed themselves to be the true and only heirs to American citizenship.

This president, though wealthy, was never a part of the elite White wealthy group, and so, as some have offered, he has been somewhat resentful. He has a mission to make America “White” again but he is also on a mission to one-up the people who have rejected him over the years. Reports are that he has never really fit in with “high society.” He thus knows, on a different level, what his base is feeling, the resentment that comes with believing that because you are White, you should have all that you want, even if it is at the expense of other groups or individuals, as reported in Vanity Fair.

It is the anger and the resentment, coupled with his true belief that America really was made for White people that drives much of what he says and does. His arrogance, his name-calling and putting down of any and everyone, is openly approved of by the White middle and lower classes and quietly approved of by many of wealthy White society. Some may have voted for him “holding their noses,” but they voted for him nonetheless.

He continues to offend a large swath of Americans, but he is also playing to an equally large swath of people who approve of what he does and says and how he does and says it. Those who are watching what is going on, seeing gains taken away, seeing the Congress letting this man have his way, and now dealing with the fact that this man will have the opportunity to name another justice to the Supreme Court, a move that will certainly push the Court to the right for generations and possibly provide a justice that will keep him from being subpoenaed in the Mueller investigation, are sick. It is as though we are watching a bad movie with an ending that we know will not be good.

In the book How Democracies Die, the authors list four key indicators of authoritarian behavior: 1) a rejection or weak commitment to democratic ideals of the game; 2) a denial of the legitimacy of political opponents; 3) a toleration or encouragement of violence and 4) a readiness to curtail the civil liberties of opponents, including the media. (pp. 24-25)

We are seeing it happen right in front of us. This president’s toxicity is only getting worse, fueled by his white supremacist mindset and his own arrogant personality. While some Americans are sick with despair over what they see, others are being manipulated, led and controlled by their own white supremacist beliefs. Neither way of dealing with what we are seeing is good.

A Jewish woman with whom I talked recently said that it is “too much to bear.” Her grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Her grandmother told her that what Hitler was able to do happened largely because the people did not think it could get as bad as it did. Some did nothing; some celebrated the false hopes that Hitler fed the people, and some people decided to deny what they were seeing.

“And look,” she said. “They didn’t think it could happen in Germany but it did, and it is happening here. Who would have believed it could happen here?”

Some might say that what happened in Germany is not happening here …but it is clear that something is happening, and it isn’t good. It will get worse before it gets better. There is nothing in place to stop this toxic president; he has no regard for God or the American government or Constitution.

We are in for a bumpy ride, even bumpier than it has been thus far.

Rev Dr. Susan K Smith is available to preach, and give workshops or hold seminars on the issue of how religion and politics have been ineffective in destroying racism. She is working on a book on the subject at this time. To book her, visit revsuekim@sbcglobal.net, or visit http://www.crazyfaithministries.org.

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