The white male racist patriarchy will not be denied. It is having a moment. It has its own president.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of race/ethnicity and sex among validated voters in the 2016 presidential election, white men were the only group in which a majority voted for Donald Trump — 62% — although a plurality of white women did also — 47%.
We are living through a flagrant display of a white male exertion of power, authority and privilege, a demonstration meant to underscore that they will forcefully fight any momentum toward demographic displacement, no matter how inevitable the math.
The fear of white male displacement is a powerful psychological motivator and keeps Trump’s base animated and active.
It keeps farmers holding out hope and making excuses for him, even as his trade war devastates their operations. It keeps coal country loyal, even as the promises of a revitalized coal industry ring hollow. It keeps white voters in the Rust Belt on the edge of their seats, waiting for the day that he will magically bring back manufacturing. It keeps white voters in the South heated over the issue of immigration and an “invasion” or “infestation” of Latin Americans.
Trump’s central promise as a politician has been the elevation, protection and promotion of whiteness, particularly white men who fear demographic changes and loss of status and privilege.
As Vox reported in 2017, white people of all ideologies, including liberals, become more conservative when confronted with the reality that a rising minority population means a loss of white dominance.
As psychologist Jonathan Haidt recently told Vox:
“As multiculturalism is emphasized more and more, there emerges a reaction against it on the right, which is attractive to the authoritarian mind and also appeals to other conservatives. And this, I think, is what has happened, this is what Trump is about — not entirely, of course, but certainly this is a big factor.”
It is about stacking the courts, controlling the bodies of women (look no further than the raft of state abortion restrictions recently passed, including the outrageous new abortion law in Alabama), fighting the redefinition of gender as personified by the advances in liberty among people who are transgender, restricting the voting of nonwhite, less conservative groups, and controlling the flow of migrants into the country who do not bolster the white population.
But the stacking of the courts may well be the thing that makes all the others possible.
While much of the country tries to contend with the unending stream of outrages in the White House, the Senate majority leader is pushing through a steady stream of Trump’s far-right federal judges, often breaking precedent and allowing for their confirmations over their home state’s senators’ objection.
The recent confirmation of Joseph Bianco to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New York, was Trump’s 38th confirmed circuit court judge, HuffPost reported last week, adding:
“That’s more circuit judges than any president has gotten by this point in a first term, and means that one in every six seats on the nation’s circuit courts is now filled by a Trump nominee.”
These are lifetime appointments. Even if demographics change over one’s lifetime, these judges will not.
As a recent Congressional Research Service report pointed out, 90% of Trump’s circuit court nominees have been white and 92% of those confirmed have been white. Among recent presidents, only Ronald Reagan — who opposed making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday, but eventually reversed himself, and who vetoed the Comprehensive Apartheid Act, which, with a congressional override, leveled sanctions against South Africa for its oppressive racist social architecture — appointed and confirmed a higher percentage of white judges.
Eighty percent of Trump’s judicial nominees have been men, and men have been 74% of those confirmed.
None of this can fully prevent change, but it can slow it.
The strategy is to find a way to maintain white supremacy, white dominance, without the necessity of a white majority in the U.S. population.
The point is that once white people become a minority in America, the country itself will move from a majority rule ideal to a minority rule one.
Trump will be president for only two more years — or, God forbid, six more — but this tension and standoff over power and status will continue. At present, white men still control much of the power in this country.
Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” I speculate that this power may not concede until its death rattle.