I grew up with an understanding that America was the most powerful, indestructible force the world had ever seen. It seemed inconceivable that the United States would ever lose a war.
However, that’s exactly what happened in 2016: America lost a war against Russia that was fought over the internet. What resulted was the end goal Russia has dreamed about for decades – installing a president who at best has a loyal allegiance to Russian President Vladimir Putin and at worst was compromised by a foreign power.
This is the same tactic the United States used to ravage Latin American and African countries throughout the 20th century, by the way. Pundits and intelligence officials have tried to figure out how Russia could pull off such a coup so easily, but the answer is simple: Russia not only understood the depths of America’s anti-Blackness, white supremacy and desire to see anybody who isn’t white suffer, but it also used that understanding to help put a white supremacist in power. And as long as Donald Trump continues to uphold the same racist values that got him elected, nothing else truly matters to his voters. In the end, Russia has their man and Trump’s supporters have theirs, as well.
Trump should have gotten himself impeached earlier this month when he stood in front of the world and insulted United States intelligence agencies while siding with a hostile foreign power in a public act of treason. Of course, Trump’s base didn’t budge, let alone call for impeachment. In fact, the hacking scandal and Trump’s refusal to place blame on Russia for impacting the election didn’t move the needle at all for his supporters. The opposite was true, as Trump’s approval rating in the wake of his Russia debacle is as high as ever among his base.
That’s because Donald Trump has been more faithful to his campaign promises than any president in U.S. history.
White supremacy isn’t predicated on white people flourishing, it’s just about white people doing better than everyone else.
Donald Trump ran on the simple premise that he’d make living in America hell for anyone who isn’t straight and white. And he’s accomplished those goals. He’s waged war on the LGBT community in the military, called Black athletes “sons of bitches,” refused to speak out against white supremacists, and, most sadistically, has separated immigrant children from their parents.
The headlines over the past few months have been dominated by stories of immigrant children in cages, tortured and victimized with no end in sight. While those stories were disgusting for so many Americans, they are the culmination of the vision Trump laid out when he ran for president. And as long as there are two-year old Venezuelan babies in cages, Trump will maintain of the support of the people who voted for him.
Trump’s presidency has gone as we’ve expected with his base suffering right along with everyone else – factories are closing, healthcare is becoming unsustainable and the poor are getting poorer. But that doesn’t matter because the heart of white supremacy means being able to look down on darker people who are doing worse. White supremacy isn’t predicated on white people flourishing, it’s just about white people doing better than everyone else. Sure, the entire country is drowning, but white Americans are content as long as they can watch everyone else choke on their dying breaths first.
Russia saw all of this coming, of course.
Because it doesn’t share America’s delusions of being a country built on freedom and equality, Russia sees the United States as a country willing to jeopardize its overall well-being to uphold whiteness.
Russia used America’s hatred to topple the world power from within.
That’s the truth about the American way. It’s a truth that this country has fought hard to pretend doesn’t exist. And that’s why Russia focused more than half of its Facebook ads on race. Russia targeted its attacks on Black Lives Matter and spread false news that only affirmed white fears about Black organizations. Those bits of cyber misinformation (in partnership with outlets like Fox News, of course) made Americans feel comfortable enough to fully express the racist thoughts they whispered when they thought nobody was listening. Trump harnessed those thoughts to amplify the message that made him president.
Of course, Trump’s ascension to the most powerful seat in the world took Americans by surprise, even Barack Obama himself who had too much faith in this country to believe it would ever elect someone based on white supremacy. However, to have faith in America is to willfully turn a blind eye to the racist history of a country that never gave us a reason to have faith in it to begin with. Faith in America meant ignoring the anti-Blackness that has determined every decision the country has had since its inception – from the moment Black people were deemed three-fifths of humans in its founding documents all the way to the election of a bigot who calls African nations “shithole” countries. To be Black and have hope in America is to be Black and deluded. Russia had no such misconceptions about this country and that’s why it won. Russia used America’s hatred to topple the world power from within.
When the history books (if there are any) tell the tale of Russia laying waste to America’s democracy in 2016, they’ll likely focus on social media, espionage and cyber security. But the story has always been America’s chickens coming home to roost. America lost a war because of an unwillingness to reckon with its identity as a country built on racism and a sustained dream that whiteness will always reign supreme. Russia saw America for what it was (and still is) and honed in on it, paving the way for Trump to be the culmination of hundreds of years of white supremacy.
There is no mystery. There is no drama. Just the tattered remains of a country that has to finally see the truth behind its fictitious dreams.