I am not a history scholar enough to know whether or not the coming election in the United States of America is THE most important election in all of history, but I think the United States stands at an incredible turning point.
For a very long time the United States has had an exalted self-image. It has imagined itself as a blessed Christian nation. It has thought of itself as a nation elected by God and given a special destiny in history. It has told itself a story about the wise and selfless leadership of the old white founding fathers. The economic success has been created by intelligence, hard work, education of the white society. The country has perpetuated the myth of its virtue and innocence by keeping out of its textbooks the crimes against Native Americans, the crimes of exploitation of South America and the middle east. The great self-image has been formed of a country blessed by great economic success because it was blessed by God and ruled by wise white men. White privilege and white power was rooted in its solid Christian foundations.
The current election appears to me to be the last great battle to preserve that image. The great American myth is crumbling. The cracks and the attacks on the image are coming from a great variety of sources. The old establishment of white privilege and white power is being assaulted by the growing number of legal people of Hispanic ancestry. The ever increasing demand by the visible and active members of the Muslim community means that government can no longer promote the Christian story. The separation of Church and State demands that government no longer ignore the many ways in which it has allowed the Christian faith to dominate the culture. The power of the Christian faith is also being weakened by the increasing number of young people who answer “none” when asked what faith they claim. The rise of the harsh religious right is a response to the fear that the Christian faith is losing its dominance in the culture. The conservative religious groups see the crumbling of the Christian monopoly and are fighting as hard as they can to preserve it. The “Black Lives Matter” is another force that is tearing into the white privilege and white power myth. Women are beginning to speak up and demand equal pay for equal work. The dramatic change to our society that modern technology is making means that many of the old jobs, the old ways, the old traditions are being left behind.
The Old White Male dominate Christian image of our country is under heavy assault and Donald Trump is running as the great defender and restorer of that old way of life. (Make America Great Again?) His appeal is to those who oppose the collapse of the myth, to those who believe that nothing good will come from the ashes of that old myth. The rabid Christian right is supporting the immoral Donald Trump because he offers them the best chance to maintain their position of moral dictators of society. In many ways Donald Trump may be the last great hope of white privilege and power.
Unfortunately Hillary Clinton has been active and a participant in the old power structure. She is the best qualified candidate but all her experiences have been as a part of the old system. Her campaign continues to try to position her as spokesperson for the new reality. She champions the cause of the new reality, but she has been a part of the old so long it is hard for many new voters to be excited about her.
Regardless of who wins, this crumbling of the old myth is going to continue. The revolution will not stop even if Trump wins. It will just be a lot harder.