Jon Stewart did a funny bit on the Stephen Colbert show – the Tonight show – during the Republican convention. He showed a collage of Fox news footage. In one piece, one of the Fox talking heads said that Trump was a “working class billionaire”. Stewart pulled the deadpan face and said, no. The audience laughed.
The joke, however, this campaign is on us. For as the press has infinitely analyzed Trump’s campaign, it has focused very much on the racist working class folk who support Trump. It has focused not at all on the 1 percent class, into which Trump was born, and where he has spent his whole life. It is as if his racial attitudes came to him during that brief period when he was kidnapped and held in a neo-Nazi mobile home.
What is it about that 1 percent? Remember that it is almost 96 percent white – the superclass is the whitest class in the nation. Remember, too, that it is the most ardent Republican voting class in the country. And one can cunclude that… oh, look over there, some fat white construction worker is holding a confederate flag!
The racism of the upper class is never, ever the focus of newspaper article or thumbsucker pieces. So much is it ignored that it is as if it doesn’t exist. If it does exist, then perhaps one should ask questions about that class – but to do that is to impugn, even tacitly, the owners of the media. So … look over there, some fat white woman who works at Walmart is showing a confederate flag!
The focus will always be on the mobile home crowd. The crowd that owns summer homes in the Hamptons and winter homes in Palm Springs, that goes to almost exclusively white clubs and presides over white corporate boards, they get a pass. The leaner-inners, the CEOs, the Quants at the Hedge fund, the numerous, numerous heirs of the 100 great American fortunes as they were listed in the 1940s – our meritocrats, our best and the brightest! – are not even slightly questioned when one of their number goes around talking about Mexican rapists and black thugs. Nobody so far as I have seen goes to seek out the opinions on race and gender at the Mar-a-Lago club. When George Saunders reported on Trump supporters for New Yorker, he confine himself to those in the crowds listening to him. Doubtless it is much harder to interview members of the various Palm Beach clubs.
When Beyonce says, in Formation, "You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making / 'Cause I slay / I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making", there’s a certain pathos to the phrase. No white singer would say, you might just be the white Bill Gates. Although African Americans make up 12.2 percent of the population, they make up 1.4 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent. This, this is no accident.
So, the next time you hear a funny joke about Trump’s racist followers, remember, the jokes on us. Cause his people rule us.