A few days after the election, I wrote this on Facebook:
By voting for Trump, you empowered racists.
By voting for Trump, you empowered sexists.
By voting for Trump, you empowered bigotry.
At the time, many folks were unhappy with me. Snowflake conservatives, despite supporting someone who “tells it like it is,” recoiled at the mere suggestion that racial animus played any role in Trump’s election (Spoiler: It did). Liberals, bizarrely, rushed to the defense of out-of-work Midwestern white folks, as if unemployment or lack of education gave free license to blame all your problems on brown folks from Mexico stealing your job.
Before the election, Trump supporters told me that while they most certainly didn’t have any racist motivations, their main concern was getting a tax cut. When I explained the potential costs of those tax cuts – not the economic part of increasing the deficit and ballooning the debt, but rather the social cost of empowering a racist bigot – my arguments fell on deaf ears.
For Trump voters, it basically came down to this: so long as I get mine, I’m really not concerned with the well-being of anyone else. Besides, I’m white, so what do I have to fear? (They did not say this, but that’s the way white privilege works – the unspoken acknowledgement that empowering racists will not negatively impact you and your kin.)
By focusing on tax cuts, Trump voters desperately tried to escape blame for the racist, bigoted outcomes of their vote. As long as they said that they only voted for tax cuts, the magical thinking went, they can wash their hands of all repercussions of violence-inducing hate speech.
In a nutshell, Trump voters were willing to let “others” pay the social price for promised tax cuts.
These “others” consist of immigrants (both documented and undocumented), religious minorities, women, racial minorities, and the LGBTQ community.
Now that it is tax time, let’s go over some of the costs that Trump voters were willing to pay so that they could dream about tax cuts.
In the month following Trump’s election, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented more than 1,000 incidents of hate, from verbal harassment to physical violence. The overwhelming majority were anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ. Only about 2% were anti-Trump, meaning that more than 97% were against communities that Trump belittled, threatened, and harassed throughout his campaign. (About 1% were dubious or false claims.)
Hate incidents in the age of Trump have increased so much that many media organizations came together so that these reports could be tracked. Spearheaded by ProPublica, Documenting Hate seeks to create a “database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents.”
On their site, stories about hate abound. Harassment of Muslims, anti-Semitic taunts, racist vandalism, bomb threats, and more. Latino/a school kids are seeing a surge in harassment, and swastikas in classrooms are becoming more prevalent, making schools less safe.
Of course, hate incidents happened before Trump ran for office, and they unfortunately will happen once he leaves office. According to SPLC, “[A]round 37 percent of all incidents directly referenced either President-elect Donald Trump, his campaign slogans, or his infamous remarks about sexual assault.” For those who have a short memory, Trump’s “infamous remarks about sexual assault,” was when he bragged to a television host how he could just grab women by the pussy because he was rich.
Trump’s hate, and its elevation and embrace by supporters, also has lethal consequences. In Kansas, a white man shot two Indian men who were enjoying an after-work drink. The shooter yelled, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire. The shooter told a bartender that he killed some Iranians. One of the Indian men died.
A white man traveled to New York to kill black folks to “make a statement,” which resulted in one black man dying.
But no matter how many times Trump voters seek to wash their conscience with the mantra of “tax cuts,” they can’t wash away the foreseeable damage that has been done due to their actions. Racism and racial animus were central tenants to Trump’s campaign. They are central tenants to his Presidency: white nationalists in the highest positions in the White House, Muslim bans, revoking protections for trans students, deportation squads, attacks on Planned Parenthood, an expanded Global Gag Rule, and a racist Attorney General, just to name a few. All these were clearly a part of the Trump agenda.
Trump voters may claim to oppose these actions. But they knew the kind of person Trump was, and the rhetoric and action he promised if he won. While Trump voters may not have supported the xenophobic vitriol, they 100% were willing to accept it as a part of getting a tax cut.
While I might not be able to put a price on the life and liberty of minorities, Trump voters sure did. The average Trump voter earned about $66,000. Under President Trump’s tax plan, this average family will get about $1,000 tax cut. That is, if Congress can even pass a tax reform package at all.
But hey, if a few blacks have to lose their right to vote, a few browns get shot, women can’t get health care, a few Mexican kids get beat up at school, and more trans kids commit suicide, it’s all worth it for that sweet sweet tax cut.