Revolutions are caused by frustrated expectations. Not by grinding poverty or by evil oppression.
Historically, people revolt and riot when their expectations are raised and reality doesn’t match what they expect.
So, I worry about the United States in the Trump era.
Blacks, Latinos, LGBT, Jews, Muslims, professional women, and other minority groups have become used to being treated with respect — and maybe even deference — by the government, corporations, and the press. They have come to expect society to deride prejudice. Claims of discrimination have been be weapons of shame.
Over decades, Congress passed equality laws. Politicians damned bigotry. News and documentaries “exposed” intolerance. The cultural norm said that biases were bad.
Trump’s campaign abandoned decades of caution and civility. He and his team used inflammatory language against a rainbow of non-white people. They made immigrants — both legal and undocumented — into boogeymen. And, when they didn’t actively target a minority, they were abysmally silent in condemning violence or overt hatred by others.
This departure from the past norms has continued into his Presidency. He banned Muslims from entering the United States, even when they were legal permanent residents. He has eliminated rules that required government contractors to employ people regardless of their sexual orientation. He has repeated failed to publicly condemn acts of violence against Jewish synagogues. Just this week his Attorney General signaled a retreat from holding police departments accountable for prejudicial enforcement of the law.
He has promoted fear in other non-Christian communities, including the deliberate harassment by Homeland Security officials of well-known American citizen Muslims like Mohammed Ali, Jr. It sent a message to Muslims everywhere. If a well-known American Muslim can be harassed, what do you think will happen to you?
Minority communities mostly didn’t vote for Trump. So, their frustration and hostility might be expected. But, the depth of their feelings of being deprived of a right is nevertheless dangerous when thinking of the potential Trump revolution. People are scared. More importantly, they are surprised, self defensive, and angry.
People who have fought for equality in the part and earned more equal treatment are now suddenly being told to like the back of the bus. It’s unrealistic to expect minorities to meekly accept a return to the 1950’s-style of police brutality and societal neglect.
What will happen?
What will happen the next time a police officer kills an unarmed person of color and the community sees no support for an investigation coming from Washington?
The potential for revolution frustration goes beyond the expected malcontents. too.
Trump’s proposed actions threaten the well being of people voted for him. The Republican repeal of Obamacare that is temporarily sidelined will hurt working families the most. Trump’s proposed budget guts agencies that have help local governments sustain programs that give food, housing, and education to lower- and middle-class citizens.
Poorer white people who find themselves without health coverage, assistance from the local (but Federally-funded) housing authority, food from Federally subsidized programs, student loans, and other “big government” benefits are also going to be scared and frustrated. Their future is threatened. They may stick with Trump, and turn on whichever group Trump decides to blame for his policies. But, they will lash out against someone when grandma gets priced out of assisted living and has to move in with Mom, Dad, and the two kids.
What will happen?