NY Magazine's Rebecca Traister wastes little time explaining exactly what's at stake in 2016, whether the country merely observes what she calls the "death throes" of "white male power" in the country, or if instead America is immolated by the flames.
This is our country in an excruciating period of change. This is the story of the slow expansion of possibility for figures who have long existed on the margins, and it is also the story of the dangerous rage those figures provoke. Listen closely, and you'll hear the acknowledgment coming directly from the Republican candidates. Here was Marco Rubio in Tuesday's debate: "What's at stake in this election is not simply what party's going to be in charge but our very identity as a people and as a nation." This is not a dog whistle. This is a statement of fact.
There are those on the right and the left who love to downplay identity politics as a distraction: Do we even believe in race or gender as anything but social constructs? How do identity politics apply to Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson? Isn’t worrying about gender and race with regard to presidential politics just narcissism anyway?
But it’s not narcissism. This election is a referendum on the existence and civic participation of Americans who are not white men — as voters, as citizens, as workers, as members of the military, as presidents.
And while the resistance may be symptomatic of death throes, a rage at the dying of the white male light, it nonetheless presents a very real threat — there is the possibility that the old and angry may triumph over the new and different. Those who are furious are not without power to effect change that lasts generations: Imagine Ted Cruz or Donald Trump or Marco Rubio in office with a Republican Congress and Supreme Court seats to fill. Voting: restricted. Immigration: halted. Abortion: banned. Equal pay: unprotected. Same-sex marriage: overturned.
Imagine, on the other hand, a Clinton presidency — or even a Sanders one, though even a white male Jewish socialist may invite less ire than a woman. Clinton, like Obama before her, isn’t carrying just her own baggage, but will stand in as the symbolic target for those whose fury at increased female autonomy has been building. In a nation where women who were not permitted to cast votes still live and breathe, her campaign, as Ms. Clinton has herself declared in other contexts, is living history. If she wins, she — and we — will be forced to do battle with this rising, chilling, ever more open threat from those who feel enraged that their country is no longer their own. I fear that there’s a lot more terror ahead of us.
Should Hillary win, there will be rage, inchoate rage with the potential to scorch this country and damage America for decades.
But that was always coming. It metastasized during the Obama years, and will erupt in blood during the Clinton ones. Should the GOP win however, the retaliation will be swift and deadly.