The guts of a nation, built on an unnatural divide that’s written into our source code are out in the open for all to see in Charlottesville right now.
This is Us.
From the moment the Dutch ship, The White Lion bartered with the Jamestown settlers to repair their damaged vessel, this has been us.
Their payment? 20 Africans slaves.
From the existence of slavery in the everyday lives of the men who wrote our founding principles in the words of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, written by a man who owned other men. Who fathered children with young girls he owned, who were fathered with young girls his father owned.
From the compromise, “Three-fifths” for black slaves in the census of the south. The bounty of ownership granted rights of representation for the needs of white men in government. But burdened them with no obligation for the representation of those owned.
From the economic efficiency that the arrangement gave us and the unstoppable power of export and industry the millions in bondage provided in cotton and tobacco to move us with seamless progress from the agrarian to the industrial world.
From the bloodiest war Americans have ever lived through where men from the same land and the same lineage and the same language killed each other in numbers never before seen. The age of modern warfare was ushered in over the cause of slavery.
From Jim Crow that denied the legitimacy of our governing documents that we spilled the blood of over a half million Americans to defend.
From the marches and riots and assassinations in the streets only fifty years ago when we decided to end it.
To the streets of Charlottesville today. Where a group of Americans, who’ve never once felt the unfair sting of oppression, rose up in force against nothing at all to protest the removal of a statue of a man who committed treason against his country to lead the army of an institution founded on the principle of black slavery in America.
The darkness in the heart of our nation has been, is and I fear always will be the inequality of those who descended from the bondage we created for the economic advantage of early America.
Whether we like it or not, whether we chose for this reason our selves or not, this election was won on race. It was won by a “win at all costs” man who was willing to go to a place to unite divided factions in the name of protecting the white working man—first, above all others.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary by a landslide. She received 67% of the vote. Obama had just 29%. Eight years later, it was another landslide. Except Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders.
53%. The most important number in the 2016 election.
That’s the relative drop in support for Clinton, from winning by nearly 38% to losing by over 15% in her contests with Obama and Sanders respectively.
That number said something. And Donald Trump heard it loud and clear. Make the election a contest of identity based politics. Take the side of the white working man. And you can win.
Make America Great Again.
You didn’t have to believe that the most important thing for America for the next eight years is the protection of our white working class in order to have voted for for Donald Trump. But if that’s what you believed, than it’s likely that you did. More likely than it’s been in a long, long time. He didn’t say it. He might not even believe it. He didn’t have to. Because in America, with our history, all you have to do in order to let white nationalism creep back into the discussion, is simply not insist that it doesn’t.
When you’re a man who insists on much, what you choose not to insist, is important.
What we’re seeing in Charlottesville is the cost of an election won on that lack of that insistence. Internet aggregated data on racial search terms and the geographic presence of white supremacist ideology shows that Barrack Obama lost 4% of the national vote because he was black. Trump won Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by 1% or less. The counties where racially derogatory search teams are most prevalent have a near perfect correlation to how well Donald Trump faired in them in the 2016 election.
In America, you can win, simply by letting the notion of white nationalism breath just a little.
What we got in Charlottesville this weekend is the price tag.
The only way to square the ledger is tolerating leaders who won’t tolerate it at all.
And not tolerating those that do any longer.