People all across the globe are watching the U.S., captivated by the mountain of smoke rising up from burning buildings, the 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, the widespread economic distress, and the failings of a splintered government. It has been said that “our country is on fire,” that our democracy is facing an unprecedented darkness; and that all of these tragedies and failures fall on the shoulders of one man: President Donald Trump. This is a claim that is being used to rally democratic voters, a focalisation of fault and thus an enemy to track down and eliminate. Evidently, it is the same rhetoric that was used by Trump in his 2016 campaign with the targeting of immigrants as the reason for unemployment and economic stagnation. Now we are to blame Trump supporters, white people, even the man himself for every issue that currently plagues our nation. The unfortunate truth is that such slander and blatant vilification only leads to more divide and more chaos, as the problems in our society are not fixed. They are systemic and cyclical.
“Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed,” said Will Smith in a 2016 interview on Colbert’s Late Show. His words echo the sentiment surrounding the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd which have ignited protests and riots in Minneapolis and across the U.S. Smith’s statement also shows the problem of blaming President Trump for the “rise” of racism in our country. To do so would be giving the man too much credit. Since his election campaign of 2016, Trump’s conservative base has been filled with white evangelicals, white supremacists, and even the KKK’s Grand Wizard himself – David Duke. Trump did not create racism, he simply emboldened it. But we like to think that he is responsible for it all. We like to think that if he is voted out in 2020, that racism will end, and the economy will return to normal. It is the cyclical optimism that perpetuates the two-party system. In 2008, the nation felt that under Obama we could have new beginning; yet, more than a decade later, Twitter flags our President’s tweets for potentially inciting violence. In 2016, parts of the nation felt that they had been left behind, that their ideals for America were diminished, that they were entitled to a new beginning. And so, one’s beginning became another’s end.
Even in the wake of a global pandemic, America fails to find common ground. As reported by the BBC, thousands of demonstrators, some armed to the teeth with their second amendment, have gathered throughout state government buildings this past May to protest stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols. Plandemic theories and conspiracies spread like wildfire, even though the rest of the world faces the same virus, which has hit the U.S. harder than anywhere else. Many people have blamed the President for the 100,000 who have died thus far. But to say that, again, is giving him too much rhetorical power.
The U.S. federal government is a machine of hundreds of thousands of workers, and while there is only one head executive, everyone is to blame. An inept Congress and Senate that push bills around as though they are playing poker are equally to blame for the crisis that we presently face. Huge corporations and billionaires who hoard wealth from the rest of the population are just as much to blame for the economic crisis that has been brought down on furloughed workers, the unemployed, and the financially troubled. A systemic failure in accountability, authority, and morality is the reason we are where we are. And this has been an ongoing process. President Trump is not the reason for present America, he is the result.
America is just one giant tinderbox, and the torch is passed along until someone decides to light it. A loaded gun with a rotating door on the trigger. We, as a people, must unequivocally condemn racism, diminish bigotry, educate the misinformed, and seek a political reconnection that maintains the dignity of all involved. Act with knowledge and speak with confidence. President Trump is not the reason for America’s problems. He has simply made them clearer, more profound, and provided them a platform on which they can feel secure. So, stop blaming him. Stop asserting that he is the reason for the issues we face. For once he is gone, written down in the history books, and buried in the Earth, where will you go? Who will you blame?