By Michael Harriot
Perhaps the greatest fictional examination of what makes us human is Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Contrary to pop culture misinformation, Frankenstein was not a monster. Victor Frankenstein was the name of the scientist in the story who — overcome by loss, curiosity and a thirst for power — created an experimental eight foot tall sentient being. Aside from being large and hideous, the creature was actually pretty sensitive and intelligent, except for one thing — the monster killed people. In the end, Victor Frankenstein expired trying to capture and subdue the beast of his creation, but not before he was exposed to an in-depth look into the worst and best parts of the human psyche — and the thin line that separates them. He died knowing he had created the monster who killed him.
As the era of Obama winds to a close, the country wipes their collective hands figuring we have overcome the “negro problem.” While the world was readying Welcome signs for a post-racial America where the white-hot flames of hate had been extinguished with body cameras, social justice warriors and diversity committees, something funny happened. The eight-foot tall Donald Trump monster flung the door open, dragging the KKK, Islamophobia and all the flaws in the political system behind him. The Republican Party is the Dr. Frankenstein who created Donald Trump, and it looks like he is going to kill them.
Make no mistake, no one thinks Donald Trump would make a good President. No one even thinks he’d make an adequate President. In fact, Donald Trump might have the lowest IQ of anyone who ever came this close to the Oval Office, but his ascendence to the presumptive Republican nominee is great for Black people because he simultaneously shines a light on the worst parts of America’s psyche while devouring the party who created him.
Have you ever been to a party, at work or in a restaurant and seen the woman or man wearing something that is all wrong for them? The white lady with no booty wearing leggings that sag in the back? The pear-shaped guy with womanly hips wearing skinny jeans? When I see this, the first thing I think is “Did they even look in the mirror?” Donald Trump is now America’s mirror.
Lately neo-liberals, conservatives and America-loving pragmatists have shifted the responsibility for police brutality, the education gap, the disparity in incarceration rates and every obstinate problem plaguing Black communities to a problem of economic inequality and “lack of resources.” It is more evolved and less icky to the white conscience to believe that America doesn’t have a “hate problem,” it has a problem with allocation of resources and educational opportunity which results in dumb niggers. Which results in poor niggers. Which results in dead niggers. The liberal mind either couldn’t or wouldn’t allow itself to believe in the simplicity of hate, until people started heaving votes at “The Donald.” The fact that the tangerine tinted tycoon’s vote totals increased as he grew more outlandishly racist erases the myth of our new postracial, we-already-had-the-conversation-about-race society that presupposes Black people’s problems come from shiftlessness, single parents, insufficient school lunches and resisting police.
I found it hilarious to hear liberal media reporters perplexed at how he could denigrate Mexicans and rise in the polls. They were baffled when he proposed a ban on Muslims and scores of people cheered as his stock rose higher. When a legitimate, milky-voiced, fellow white man asked Trump about the Ku Klux Klan, on network TV, with cameras running, the carrot-colored combover essentially responded with “yeah, they’re cool,” and everyone lost their motherfucking minds — or pretended to — I can’t really tell. I don’t know if the guffaws were because Trump said it out loud or if they were genuinely shocked that white supremacists were backing a political candidate. They had just started telling the fairy tale about an America that vanquished Jim Crow and embraced the dream of Martin Luther King when Trump interrupted, screaming nigger, kicking black kids out of his rallies, and spreading tales of Mexican rapists and Muslim terrorists. Thank you Donald for holding up the mirror and fucking up the narrative.
Donald Trump is the monster they created. The Republican party’s existence is tied to the part of America that holds on to the Confederacy and whose air still smells of slavery. It has always dog-whistled white supremacy to willing listeners while the rest of the world acted as if the nigger-hating pitch was too high for them to fear. It survives wholly off gerrymandering, exploiting Jesus and the prospect of keeping Black people in their place with woeful tales of big government, welfare queens and the dangers of affirmative action. Donald has now split the party into two parts:
- Torch-and-pitchfork wielders
Because of Trump, we see there are far more pitchforkers than there are pragmatic conservatives. I’m not saying everyone who votes for Trump is a racist. This doesn’t even mean that Donald Trump is racist. I don’t believe Donald Trump hates Black people any more than I believe he reads Two Corinthians, wants to end abortion or is a shotgun-toting gun nut. I am willing to believe that an entitled billionaire who built his fortune off bluster and bullshit is willing to say and do anything to become the most powerful man on earth — including tossing Black people under the bus and playing to the xenophobic fears of a White populace who feels the brown people closing in on them.
There was a time where people believed that serious candidates for President were required to have a resume steeped in public service and experience in government, while some always believed it was always a popularity contest for rich white men. Donald Trump is proving that. He has turned the Presidential campaign into a reality show and is showing everyone that the cult of personality and the politics of fear can propel anyone in America.
Ultimately, Trump’s greatest accomplishment in politics may be the revelation to America that votes don’t count. When we are lining up at the polls to cast our ballots, the Orange Haterade may get the most votes, and still lose out in the nominating process because delegates choose the nominees, not votes. A small group of electors choose the President, not votes. Both the electoral college and the nominating process are weighted to specifically undervalue the African American vote. No one ever mentioned it before. Before The Donald, that is.
I was dreading post-Obama America. I thought my existence would be wrought with hipsters explaining mass incarceration with test scores and demographic data. For a little while I had resolved myself to a lifetime of Megan Kelly parroting that America had become a place where we could pull ourselves up by our bootstraps because politicians weren’t making policy because of race or gender and Fox News reasoning that failure to signal sometimes results in jailhouse trashbag suicides. Thank you Donald Trump for holding up the mirror to America, exposing her flaws and telling her to change her pants. When the Republican Party finally expires, I imagine its last words will be spoken while peering at its apricot-colored candidate, whispering the words of Victor Frankenstein when he saw the beast of his own construction:
“I beheld the wretch — the miserable monster whom I created.”