The student news site of Oxford College of Emory University

The Oxford Spokesman

Filed under Editorials

The Myth of the American Democracy

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






I feel inclined to write a scathing criticism of the American citizenry. I feel inclined to indict this nation for its callous disregard of basic humanity and common decency.

I find the United States of America guilty of lauding and elevating racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, bigoted, and demeaning rhetoric. I find the United States of America guilty of refusing to live up to the ideals of democracy many claim we have achieved.

Our history haunts us. Our history defines us. We have never given our wounds and our injuries the proper medical attention they need to heal. Instead, with every iteration of history repeating itself, we place flimsy bandages over bullet wounds and deep gashes and wonder why blood seems to coat everything even when we feel like we have done all we can do to stem the flow.

The country that has elected Donald Trump as President of the United States was born out of a very specific societal, cultural, and racial context. That cannot be ignored. It should not be ignored. Many of you will ask questions along the lines of, “how did this happen?” “How could we have elected Barack Obama just 8 years before?” The answers to these questions are woven into the historical context within which we currently exist. Our present is inextricably tied to our past. In a country that is plagued with post- anything syndrome, the election of this man to the highest office in the land should be a staggering and sober reminder that the very real and very damaging effects of our social class stratification, our racial injustice and inequality, our wealth allocation, our discriminatory practices against people of all racial and ethnic groups, our bigoted and narrow minded view of gender expression and gender identity, and our disregard for the overall well-being of those who reside within this country, create real problems that cannot be solved by pretending that we as a society have somehow risen above the fray of the past and have discovered a social harmony that exempts us from understanding where our current problems originate.

I am going to be honest. My heart is heavy. I watched the 2016 election coverage in disbelief and abject horror. I watched state after state become red as a majority of the country’s votes for Donald Trump were added to the count. I held my breath as he reached the requisite 270 votes necessary to secure the presidency. My heart is broken. I have questioned what my purpose is. Why does my activism lead me to be a feminist, an anti-racist, a supporter of equality for all people? Why do I even bother to learn about intersectionality, race relations, and LGBTQIA discrimination when more than half of the country’s population can undo any momentum towards change that may have occurred with the election of a man who is opposed to all of these ideals? How do I navigate within a system where my activism seems to be worthless? How do I navigate within a system that claims to be a democracy yet continues to marginalize, suppress, belittle, and trivialize whole groups of people?

My rage has fueled me to action. Because if Donald Trump’s disgusting and demeaning campaign clarified one thing, it is that the system is indeed broken. But unlike Donald’s platform, I argue that the fissure within the American cultural system has existed since the birth of the nation. There is no way to make America Great Again, because America was broken the second it was conceived. The system has been broken since the bodies of black people were used as readily as one would use a horse or a mule. The system has been broken since black people were stored in prison systems created specifically as a response to the overflow of newly freed black people who were jobless, hungry, and penniless. The system was broken when the KKK lynched countless black men and left their bodies dangling from tree branches like grotesque ornaments or trophies. The system was broken when the police force tasked to serve and protect beat, hosed down, and assaulted protesters who were demanding equality under the law that was written by those who claimed to be supporters of democracy and yet denied those rights to many. The system was broken when Trayvon Martin could be gunned down and his murderer could sell the murder weapon and make a profit after being acquitted. The system was broken when Eric Garner repeated the words “I can’t breathe” so many times before the life was choked out of him. The system was broken when the Black Lives Matter movement was met with the response of All Lives Matter from people who are incapable of self-reflexivity and intentional thought. The system was broken when Black Lives Matter was countered by Blue Lives Matter. The system was broken when Black Lives Matter needed to be qualified or designated as a movement that is only relevant when others deem it relevant. The system was broken when the election of a half black and half white man signaled to many a post-racial society. The system is broken. It has always been broken. I am tired of placing bandages over bullet holes. It is time for repair. It is time to dismantle the systems that have allowed a Donald Trump presidency to become a reality. It is time to acknowledge that the American democratic experiment has failed. It is time to admit that fact to ourselves and work on where to go from there. Because in a society where activism has become the new normal, it is time for that activism to concern itself with destroying the systems under which inequality persists. For me, the election of Donald Trump has been a reminder that the United States has always been built on the backs of black bodies. Until this country is no longer the nation that exploits minority groups for the gain of others, we should not be surprised that a Donald Trump presidency became a reality.

Print Friendly

2 Comments

2 Responses to “The Myth of the American Democracy”

  1. stacy bell mcquaide on November 9th, 2016 4:34 pm

    Incredible. Thank you for sharing these words with the community.

    [Reply]

  2. Christian Romero on November 23rd, 2016 5:46 pm

    The system that elected Donald Trump is political and institutional. It is a system that stands for, or at the very least tries to, liberal democratic ideals. Donald Trump is president-elect because of the votes cast in the current political system.

    The system that caused the list of grievances written in the article seems to be a social system. “Social” because it depends on society and its zeitgeist at that time. Your example of slavery supports this. It seems progress in changing the social system has slowed, evidenced by the modern examples of Trayvon and Eric.

    The political system of the US is not the same as the social system. The former is subject to the latter, though it may take a long time and many hardships, as evidenced by things like gay marriage. The “American democratic experiment ” has not failed, so long as it stands for the ideals of the liberal democracy. What may have failed are the people living in the regime, the majority of whom probably do not stand for the ideals of liberal democracy. President-elect Trump is evidence of this. Will a change to the regime change the social system? It is hard to say.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Showcase

    Television Crew Films on Oxford’s Campus

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Entertainment

    Oscars 2017: Highlights

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Entertainment

    The BTS on BTS

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Editorials

    The Death Of America

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Entertainment

    Review: Hidden Figures

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Showcase

    A Viewer’s Guide to Super Bowl LI

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Editorials

    There are thousands of reasons to despair, but millions of reasons to hope

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Editorials

    Love Note to the Small Moments

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Entertainment

    Not* Just Another Teen Movie

  • The Myth of the American Democracy

    Showcase

    Impact of the Presidential Election On the Sports World

The student news site of Oxford College of Emory University
The Myth of the American Democracy