Recently in a newscast I heard the following: "If only white men could vote, Trump would win. If only people lacking a college degree could vote, Trump would win. Conversely, if only college graduates could vote, Clinton would win. If only women or minorities could vote, Clinton would win." Assuming the expert who was being interviewed had some evidence behind his proclamations, what does this tell us?
For one thing it tells us either that white men, particularly the older and less educated among them, fail to understand something that more educated people do, or else this demographic feels less served by our society than others. This may come as a surprise, since most people would say that historically women and minorities were less well served in society than white men. There must be something these men are feeling that makes them want to revert to a former societal condition they somehow perceive as having been superior to the current one. So what is it that attracts so many older, less educated white men to Trump's message? What makes them respond favorably to the Trump persona, so utterly lacking in dignity, poise, compassion and respectability as it is?
I am old enough to remember how things were in the 1950s. White males had decreed that blacks must sit at the back of the bus, that women must limit their concerns to the best brand of detergent to use, and that the handicapped must remain largely hidden from view so as not to disturb "normal" people. The handicapped were afforded none of the accommodations they enjoy today, and "foreigners" were viewed with suspicion, if not contempt. This was a time when many Americans blithely assumed our country was "better" than all the others, and American white men took for granted that they deserved greater privilege than everyone else.
Secluded (relatively speaking, anyway) as we were in those days from global influences, a triumphalist ethnocentrism was a natural and expected stance. Lacking much input from other cultures, we could freely assume that our country was the best, and our religious beliefs were the only correct ones; customs of other cultures were quaint, at best and "primitive" or barbaric at worst. In those days, we of the other gender, and those of nonwhite races willingly acceded all the power and privilege to the dominant demographic -- white males. This was a time when Trump was young, and our society had yet to even suspect the sweeping cultural changes that would force themselves into our consciousness, and that have colored our society ever since.
Since the 1950s however other nationalities and races have flooded into our country, enriching our society with cultural variety and color, and exposing us to many belief systems and customs. The internet and global news connect us on a daily basis with all parts of the world. This multicultural exposure has broadened our minds and deepened our humanity. What is more, we have been able to compare and contrast all sorts of religions and belief systems, and have recognized a trajectory people tend to follow as they mature spiritually, no matter which religion they follow.
We now understand that, regardless of what belief system a person may ascribe to, spiritual progress entails a continually expanding circle of concern. The least developed among us relate only to themselves; they are egocentric. Slightly more advanced people identify primarily with the groups of which they are a part, Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Americans, etc. These people can be said to be ethnocentric and they tend to fear or outcast anyone who is perceived as "other."
At levels more advanced than those two, people identify with the entire human race, or even all beings, or the entire universe. The broader one's worldview, the more a person will include in their circle of concern, the more spiritually mature they are.* The same trajectory applies in social development and cultural development. We can perceive a definite forward direction in spiritual development, societal or any other type of development. And a Trump mentality represents a definite step backwards on that trajectory. At best his worldview might be ethnocentric. Or at worst -- and more likely -- egocentric.
Surely Trump's idea of what would make America "great" again harks back to a time of maximum ethnocentricity. The "great" America Trump would like to return to represents the less developed ethnocentric level. It was really only ever great for the very demographic to which Trump himself belongs -- white males, and NOT the minimally educated masses, but rather the elite, the RICH white males born into privilege and opportunity. Trump is first and foremost a largely ruthless businessman whose success has come at least in part by stepping on the backs of those with whom he did business. Everything he has said to date shows that he has clearly not reached a level that would cause him to empathize with anyone outside his own class.
The uneducated, the poor and the oppressed do NOT belong to the group Donald Trump sees himself a part of. Trump may talk like he shares their concerns, but rest assured he is not one of them. They are "the other" that a Donald Trump would not relate to, no matter how much he is trying to pander to them in his embarrassingly undignified campaign. Typical minimally educated older white males, whose hard labors have built this country into what it is, are kidding themselves if they think a Donald Trump would ever lift a finger to extend the material, social or cultural bounty he has enjoyed to them.
My warning to America's older, less educated white males: The "Great Again" America Trump promises is NOT the same one you are hoping for.
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