In his new book, The Atlantic correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates contends that the election of Donald Trump was a result of—you guessed it—racism.
But not just any racism. According to Coates’s upcoming We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, President Trump’s rise was due to the same streak of panic that followed the Reconstruction Era in the south—when racist whites forced blacks out of the sphere of government:
"What this country really fears is black respectability, Good Negro Government.”
Rather than taking Trump’s election—and the tremendous swing of the pendulum it represented—as an indication of Obama’s abject failure, the author mystifyingly maintains that Donald J. Trump took office because Obama was so breathtakingly magnificent. He was so utterly fantastic, in fact, that it scared all the white people into voting for Trump.
No, the book is not intended as comedy.
Likening Trump voters to post-Civil War white supremacists (predictably), Coates writes:
The central thread of this book is eight articles written during the eight years of the first black presidency—a period of Good Negro Government…In his eight years, (Obama) emerged as a caretaker and measured architect…He steered clear of major scandal, corruption, and bribery. He was deliberate to a fault, saw himself as the keeper of his country's sacred legacy, and if he was bothered by his country's sins, he ultimately believed it to be a force for good in the world.
Really? Are we talking about Barack Obama?
The symbolic power of Barack Obama's presidency—that whiteness was no longer strong enough to prevent peons from taking up residence in the castle—assaulted the most deeply rooted notions of white supremacy and instilled fear in its adherents and beneficiaries, (which) gave the symbols Donald Trump deployed—the symbols of racism—enough potency to make him president.
Coates appears to forget that Obama wasn’t appointed; he was voted into office by the same nation which decided it needed Trump. The two leaders may be opposites; but they have a shared constituency: America.
Nevertheless, Coates remains mired in paranoia: "When it becomes clear that Good Negro Government might, in any way, empower actual Negroes over actual whites, then the fear sets in.”
Despite the many ways Obama disappointed the country—his weak foreign policy, his divisive race-baiting, to name two—the Left seems incapable of accepting what November 2016 served them. It wasn’t an affirmation of Obama's success; it was an utterly decisive repudiation of his legacy.