‘This was a white election. It was a race election. Contrary to all the data and demographics about a changing America, Donald Trump defied the conventional wisdom and believed he could win by mobilizing the white vote and turning out angry white voters in greater numbers than others believed was possible — and finally winning in an overwhelmingly white vote. And he did.’
Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners, names it for what it is, racism, the ugly prejudice which is tainting politics and destroying lives across the world. In the US Presidential election a majority of white voters of all backgrounds, classes and gender voted for the candidate who explicitly linked economic resentment with racial resentment targeting Muslims, Mexicans and African Americans to generate headlines and hatred. As a result, today’s Inauguration of President Trump will be boycotted by members of Congress, bring millions on to the streets in protest and will be viewed by the rest of the World as the opening scene from a disaster movie.
In the UK European Referendum campaign and in the aftermath of the result, racist attitudes surfaced in public discussion of EU membership, austerity economics and immigration. It was alarming to see how easily certain opinions and attitudes were manipulated to normalise xenophobia and even fascism with any criticism dismissed as political correctness.
Whilst many take to the streets to express their dismay and disapproval of a Trump Presidency, millions of others have dipped into their purses to create a surge in donations to various organisations whose aims counter those proposed by the new President. Groups that champion causes like civil liberties and women’s health as well as focus on immigration rights and anti-discrimination initiatives have seen record responses, in the form of financial contributions and volunteer applications.
Similar action should be our response to political and economic forces which stigmatise, demean and dehumanise. We must recognise and stand with those who are most vulnerable in such times. Every day there will be opportunities to offer the hand of friendship, to speak up when the name-calling starts, to challenge falsehoods and to encourage one another in the struggle to build a more just and compassionate society. We must also do all we can to support those in the frontline of caring organisations at home and abroad with our money and our time.
Pope Francis in his New Year message declared that 2017 will be good if each one of us does good. Many of us tried to do good in 2016 and look how that turned out.
However, there is no other way – do good and live in hope.