America is on pause

American greatness is on a break for at least 4 years. Every day Donald Trump is in office, it slips further away

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published July 16, 2017 11:00AM (EDT)

 (AP/Patrick Semansky)
(AP/Patrick Semansky)

Donald Trump supporters made their big cultural statement in 2016 by electing to the presidency a white-collar executive who's never seen a day of hard work yet presents himself as the champion of blue-collar people. Now, as a result, America is on pause.

We have now been under the rule of Donald Trump for more than 170 days and nothing of substance has happened — other than multiple attempts to undo everything that had been accomplished by the previous administration, like Barack Obama’s special immigration program for foreign entrepreneurs, providing heating aid for some of our most vulnerable citizens, the defrosting of relations with Cuba and, of course, the GOP's constant obsession — Obamacare. Anything Obama touched in his eight years in office, from Planned Parenthood to climate change, has to go, apparently. What's worse, many of these Obama undos are being underreported overall, because Trump's crass tweets and his campaign's collection of Russia scandals makes for better TV.

I don’t think it’s entirely about Trump being anti-Obama, either. Rather, many of the policy efforts made by the previous White House enhanced the lives of poor white people and non-white people, and they cost rich people money they probably don’t even really need. And now we have to sit back and wait for four more years — in a realistic best-case scenario — to accomplish anything progressive on the federal level. That’s four more years of big talk, mean tweets, golf trips and fresh scandals.

It's amazing to remember that before Jan. 20 we were talking about things that mattered, like the environment, ending the war on drugs, and prison reform. Opportunity creation was a daily topic, and now it doesn’t even come up. It’s difficult to focus on the issues in our country because we also have worry about the other countries we're pissing off, in addition to being led by a president who appears only to be interested in helping his friends stay rich.

So as we wait for the rest of this nothingness of a presidency to expire, I’d like the hardcore Trump supporters to consider a few things.

For starters, if you're rich and don’t care about anything but money, Donald Trump is your guy. You clearly made the right choice for yourself. But if you are poor, then it’s time to wake up.

I don’t understand broke Republicans; you will never ever advance up the economic ladder under a person like Donald Trump. If you don’t make at least $150,000 as a single person, own your own home and a pool, and vacation twice a year, then you probably shouldn’t be a Republican. So far, this president has done nothing to change your financial situation, and he won’t. You have a better chance of getting milk out of a man’s nipple. Capitalism isn’t about pulling up hard-working white people and helping them get rich. Capitalism isn’t about social mobility or rewarding people fairly for their labor. It’s about exploiting hard-working white people, hard-working African-Americans, hard-working Mexicans, and any other hardworking person in order to make more money for those who already have it.

Trump was the best entertainer on the campaign trail with his cute Make America Great Again hats and silly little speeches, but nothing's funny now. The bottom 75 percent of the country is losing, and we won’t see anything even close to a win over the next few years.

America is on pause for us, as it will be for a while. So let’s use our time wisely. Collectively, I hope we all take this time to understand what’s really going on in our country and how we are suffering, and focus on the ways that we can improve together. Then I hope that we can take those lessons and learn to vote based on our shared best interests, rather than on divisive politics and a need to make a cultural statement. Only the top 1 percent can afford to benefit from those.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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