Election Solutionism is a Luxury of White, Male America

No matter what happens today, no matter how great or small the victory or loss, the damage to the US has been done. The luxury of thinking that a Clinton win will “solve” anything is one limited to white, male America. For African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Muslims, the LGBT community, women and many others, the US is a darker, more dangerous place where their insult, subjugation and repression are political tactics that pay clear dividends. Smart people have seen how it worked, and what buttons can be pushed. They will figure out how to game this system in more effective ways than a moron like Trump ever could.

The one thing I have heard/read on a consistent basis from African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims is that issues of racism and discrimination are big at election time, only to fall away once the elections are over. There was a lot of self-congratulation in the US after Obama was elected in 2008, only for people (usually white people) to be “shocked” that a racist like Trump could get leverage. There is a strong strain of “solutionism” in the US (and Europe) when it comes to elections: a belief that a result—any result — will somehow allay fears and quell unrest. Yes, African-American women are polled and asked to speak at political rallies. Yes, Latinos are lauded as a crucial voting bloc. But what about during the remaining of the 4-to-8 years? Or, are issues or racism and sexism just topics for pre-election focus groups and campaign ads?

And, people will say “I’m With Her”, but what does that mean? I’m with her on November 8? What about November 9? Or February 10? Does saying “I’m With Her” mean a commitment to feminism that involves some real-life sacrifice of power for men? Does it, for example, mean paid maternity leave? Because it hasn’t until now, in large part because men haven’t shown the political will to drive it through in the face of corporate power (also, not coincidentally, driven by men). And, by the way, these are many men who will claim to be “With Her” today.

Saying that the election is seen as a “solution” is my way of saying it is a “crisis averted” moment. The problem is that, after every US “crisis averted” event held in 4-year cycles, the crises have never been addressed at any deep, structural level. That’s because — and here’s my point — the crises don’t have the same negative impact on those who ultimately benefit from the status quo: white men.

Professor of Journalism, Stockholm University. American. https://twitter.com/ChrChristensen

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