Trump Was Never the Real Problem

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

As I write this I await, like everyone else on planet earth, the results of this spectacle called the US elections. I await the outcome of a sham that empires throughout history have foisted on their subjects. The illusion of choice. I also await the inevitable contention. I await the speculation that will likely stretch on for weeks or more. I await the unhinged machinations and chaos making from the sitting president, as well as his unbridled fascist putsch, an expected act born in desperation from a sociopathic narcissistic megalomaniac.

But let’s be frank, Donald Trump was never the real problem, he was and is the rancid product of a centuries long experiment in racist colonial settler imperialism, first born on the continent, then later exported to the entire world. It started when European settlers set foot on this occupied “New World” and declared it their own, Native peoples be damned.

Trump’s penchant for detached, sadistic cruelty is what has always lied under the surface of American “exceptionalism.” This is the same cruelty that spawned Indigenous genocide, the African slave trade, lynching, Jim Crow, and a nation that put its citizens in concentration camps, normalized the nuking of civilians (the only nation on earth to ever do so), carpet bombed South Asian villages and doused their children with napalm and Agent Orange. The same one that trained death squads in Central America and Indonesia. The same one that assassinated Lumumba and ousted democratically elected presidents like Allende and Mossadegh. The same one that allowed for the decimation of Iraq and an entire region based on lies, that tortured children and their parents in the dank cellars of Abu Ghraib, that drone bombed a grandmother picking okra in her field. The same one that turned Libya, once Africa’s wealthiest nation, into a center for the modern slave trade. The same one that has bestowed tanks to its police, trophies of its bloody forays in the global south, now destined to crush its own people. The same one that locked up an entire generation of Black and Brown kids for the possession of a plant or because they injected something into their impoverished arms to alleviate the agony of living in a hellscape of hopelessness.

The US just experienced its biggest voter turnout in 150 years, yet it did not produce the so-called “blue wave” so many liberals were hoping for. Trump, the festering pile of orange dung that has haunted the Oval Office for the last four years, should have been crushed in any election in a free and equal society. Yet, nearly half of those who voted chose that proto-fascist dung heap, the one who ripped children from the arms of their parents and put them in cages as they sobbed uncontrollably. The same one who has openly encouraged violence from his more extremist fanbase. The one who said neo-Nazis were “very fine people.” The one who commanded racist terrorists to “stand back and stand by.” The one who has mocked healthcare professionals and science while a fully preventable pandemic surges across the country. The “grab em by the pussy” chauvinist who has been accused of sexual assault by at least 26 women. The one so many evangelicals sickeningly fawn over as if he were some American version of the biblical King David. The one who has consistently demonized the press as well as anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.

Why? How can this be possible? Because white America, liberal and conservative alike, has for too long been drunk on its own hubris, willfully blind to the misery it has inflicted through apathy or deliberate policy. It has been continually hand fed the lie of its supposed greatness from CIA/Hollywood propagandists for decades. It has continually been hand fed the lie of the “free market,” ridiculing socialists and anarchists, while millions languish in shanty towns outside of cities like Los Angeles or in capitalism’s industrial cancer alleys. And its dissidents, of whom there have been many, have been repeatedly chided, silenced or ruthlessly punished for daring to expose the lies for what they are. One sits in a gulag in Britain awaiting his fate at this very moment. America is, in fact, an empire in a state of steep decline on a planet ever besieged by war mongering, ecocidal psychopaths, far more interested in accumulating coin than even the lives of their own children and grandchildren.

Joe Biden, a lingering ghoul of America’s past racist and genocidal forays, was peddled to the country as the only viable alternative to a proto-fascist. A man whose groping hands have unwelcomingly caressed more buttocks than can be counted. Who proudly cavorted with segregationists, authored a crime bill that sent impoverished Black and Brown kids packing to prison, championed a war based on lies that took hundreds of thousands of lives, if not more. Who continues to defend apartheid in the Middle-East and military juntas in Central America. Who still lauds fracking amidst a climate melt down. And who refuses to consider anything close to universal healthcare in the midst of a pandemic. This was the alternative. And yet so many liberals still incredulously wonder why he didn’t garner much enthusiasm.

Regardless of the outcome, it should be clear that the US is a failed state. While most its people are decent and willing to engage with a world far bigger than its borders, a sizeable chunk of its constituency has demonstrated it is not. A sizeable chunk has embraced fascism, even if they are unable to define such a term. This is a fact that must be stated plain. And its belligerent government’s disregard for facts or even a modicum of decency, cooperation, compassion or conscience has been revealed to every inhabitant on the planet, and in very stark terms. It cannot, and should not, ever be trusted. In fact, its dissolution is the only hope we have for a livable future on earth.

Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at