The president-elect earned the votes of a majority of white people while running a campaign that explicitly and consistently appealed to white identity and anxiety. At the heart of this anxiety is white people’s increasing awareness that they will become a statistical minority in this country within a generation. The paradox is that they have no language to speak about their own identity. “White” is a category that has afforded them an evasion from race, rather than an opportunity to confront it.
In his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump regularly tied America’s problems to others. Immigration must be reformed, he told us, to stop the rapists and drug dealers coming here from Mexico. Terrorism could be stopped by banning Muslims from entering the country. The big banks would not be held in check by his opponent, whose picture he tweeted alongside a Star of David. The only people that the president-elect never faulted for anything were whites. These people he spoke of not as an indistinguishable mass but as a multitude of individuals, victims of a system that was increasingly rigged against them.
Laila Lalami, “Group Think”, The New York Times Magazine (27 November 2016), 16.