By Mike Green,
Co-Founder of ScaleUp Partners
I see #InclusiveAmerica as a defining vision for the nation. It is a North Star for our nation, if we, the people, choose this direction.
Inclusive America is a new platform offering a holistic narrative that tells a story of America’s post-Civil War historical timeline over the last 150 years. The story remembers major events of the 19th and 20th centuries, replete with Exclusionary and Divisive policies and practices, lest we forget lessons learned and inadvertently recycle the past in the present day. But the story targets positive efforts that push away from the past, progressing toward a future landscape of Inclusion and Diversity that’s visible on the horizon of the mid-21st century. That’s where we’re headed, if we continue to choose that direction.
America today is battling against the forces of our racist past, which remain embedded within policies and practices that defined the 20th century. For the vast majority of the past 150 years, America built and sought to preserve a Utopian society established on a foundation of white supremacy and white privilege. Around that society a wall was built with signs, both literally and figuratively, warning “others” to keep out.
Meanwhile, many whites and non-whites have continued to battle to make incremental progress toward an era of Inclusion and Diversity that would expand opportunities for all. Some progress has been made. Today, we can see the horizon of an Inclusive Era in America that can hopefully be achieved by the mid-21st century.
These external battles also wage internally, given that white citizens who seek to evolve the landscape into an Inclusive America still enjoy the fruits and benefits of a privileged white society built on past policies of exclusion. Their courage to expand opportunities and develop an environment of shared prosperity should be acknowledged and commended, as they participate in empathetic struggles alongside nonwhites and poor whites.
This battle with America’s past neared a crescendo with the election of President Obama and reached its peak with the Battle of the 2012 presidential election. That was the tipping point in the story of this ongoing societal war within our country and ourselves.
Throughout Obama’s tenure, those forces seeking to preserve the past became more solidly committed to reversing the gains of the progress that has been made. Those forces were steely determined to just say no to everything Obama sought or tried to do. The element of surprise they did not foresee, and cannot control, is the powerful influx of Mexican immigrants, whose very presence have tipped the scales of political power against those who have long held power over all institutions of wealth and influence … until cracks began to form in the dam of their power at the turn of the century.
The powers of far right-wing conservatism in the Battle of 2012 witnessed failure in their own leadership to withstand the “onslaught” of an incremental progress toward the dreaded “multiculturalism” environment in America that would form the basis of an inclusive society. They saw Obama as leading that charge. They saw themselves as the last stand in the defense of conservative policies, principles and practices personified in the person of President Ronald Reagan, who halted the progressive philosophy of President Jimmy Carter and re-established the dominance of white conservatism in America.
White supremacy and multiculturalism cannot coexist, these forces believe. And they were determined, throughout Obama’s presidency, to find a champion for their cause. They struck out with a whole slew of candidates in the presidential election of 2012, having to settle for someone they considered a milquetoast Mormon, who they despised but tolerated because, well, he was white … and the last man standing in their primary.
Given what we have seen in the election of 2016, it appears that if Donald Trump had decided to run back in 2012, he likely would’ve emerged as the Republican nominee and lost in a far worse shellacking than did Mitt Romney. His last ditch effort now is a do-or-die opportunity for those who seek to “take back” their country and “make America great again.”
This year, conservative forces overwhelmingly stand behind the brash billionaire who will say anything and do anything with an unapologetic boldness. Trump is their champion. They believe Trump understands what is needed to press hard on the brakes of progress and steer the country back to the time of perceived greatness, when America was great for whites, and whites were in great control of all institutions of power, wealth and influence.
In the America of the past, white conservatives needed only to “tolerate” nonwhites to a small degree. Trump exemplifies such policy. He understands that to return the nation back to an era of white middle-class prosperity and comfort he needs to impede the progress of a large bloc of non-white voters, particularly black and Hispanic Americans.
Imprisonment of non-violent black Americans and deportation of working Mexican immigrants are harsh measures that Trump hopes to see ramp up again to extraordinary levels achieved in the past. Trump understands these are fervent desires of his constituents as he proclaims himself the Law & Order Candidate through the resuscitation of Nixon’s old “law and order” campaign. Trump encourages his supporters to take measures to purge the voter registry as much as possible of legal black and Hispanic voters. And he has called for his followers to be alert for illegal voters trying to defraud the system, which is a dog whistle message to violate the Consent Decree law that prevents the RNC from reinstating voter intimidation tactics it was caught orchestrating in the 1970s and 80s.
As we close out the Obama presidency and open a post-Obama era, the question of which direction America will move at this crossroads is key.
This election is a defacto referendum on America’s past. Will we vote to continue the incremental progress and perhaps accelerate it toward an inclusive era in America, or will we usher in an authoritarian who hopes to halt the way and forward and turn the nation back toward a bygone era of exclusionary policies and systemic institutional biases that favored whites over others?
Under President Obama, the nation has largely rejected the past and fought yet another civil war (more civil than the previous, albeit still bloody) and declared itself committed to live up to the ideals of its constitution and the words on the statue of liberty.
I see Inclusive America as a vision for our nation’s future, which is determined by the action we, the people (all of us), take today that can serve our whole nation tomorrow. Lend your voice to this conversation in the comments and at InclusiveAmerica.com.