One moment of the Republican Convention put the election in a clearer light. It came with all the plausible deniability one would want.
Most of the way through his speech accepting the nomination, there was a strange moment on the South Lawn of the White House when the current President turned his back to the audience and took a moment to look at the White House. The transcript says this:
They want to defund the police while they have armed guards for themselves. This November, we must turn the page forever on this failed political class. The fact is I’m here --
-- what’s the name of that building?
But I’ll say it differently. The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.
To me, one of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in the world, it’s not a building, it’s a home, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not even a house; it’s a home. It’s a wonderful place, with an incredible history.
After one more falsity and mischaracterization of the opposing party, with nary a transition, the reason for misusing the White House and other governmental places and procedures came clear — “The fact is I’m here.” That’s all the justification seen to be needed. Presence and power are the only realities at play. You are either a winner or a loser. Winners get to do what they want; when they want. The rich get richer; the poor, poorer.
In looking at the White House, there was no need to speak the overt issue of this election —White Supremacy. People said to themselves, “It’s the White House; O, the White House.”
Doubling down on the power of presence, “The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.” At least one of those not here is the previous President, a “Black” man. The message is that the House has been restored to its original owner, if not the original builders.
To indicate the rightness of this, we are led to see that a man is king of his castle, his home. This “White” House is more than just a symbol; it is an emotional center worth defending with all available arms. This “home” locates any future threat of leaving it will be met with the greatest resistance.
“White” is the shine of a city on a hill. “House” and “Home”, property and identity, invest the city with energy to defend it even if such a defense will ruin the whole system’s general welfare. Rape of economic resources will parallel the rape of environmental resources of the last 300 years but at a much more rapid pace.
This aside put the whole election in perspective for me. There was no need to say “White Supremacy” aloud. It has been made clear that it is firmly set in people’s minds. Now it is doubly important to say aloud what has become the water we swim in, to articulate what is at stake. Democratic processes and traditions are always waxing and waning. Some are helpful (slow progress can glacially change, helpful to the extent change occurs), and some are not (majority wins, is not helpful). This, however, goes beyond political processes. In play is the willingness to express in every way possible, inhumanity, the supremacy of some — toward any other person, and the crucial context of other-than-human.