Political Pulse

Heart of Darkness

Dominic Jae Savana, Cactus Editor

“We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there. At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly… Whether it meant war, peace, or prayer we could not tell…” (Conrad, 1899)

Joseph Conrad, when writing his tale of a crew’s descent into the heart of savage Africa, could not have anticipated the profound message Marlow’s own understanding of darkness would leave the world of literature and beyond. The 2016 election may be best represented by Donald Trump’s descent into the heart of darkness in America. The irony is that savage America is not made up of the poor and destitute neighborhoods of the inner cities, but the isolated and often unheard rural outskirts.

Understand that the political world is in a state of shock by the 2016 election. By all accounts, Donald J. Trump was severely out of touch with the minority groups that dominate the most populated hubs of the United States. This truth is reflected in the popular vote, won by Hillary Clinton. As a result, Democrats relied on these hubs to out voice the rest of a sparsely populated countryside. There, the former white middle class were pounding the drums of war against globalization and the browning of the United States and her culture. What most surprised the political world was that this sentiment was not strictly the feeling of the South.

The United States is no longer polarized over the Mason-Dixon line, and this may reflect that the dispersion of people across the land no longer means rural America lies only in the South. Industrial America has taken the place of agricultural America – their woes have been unheard and forgotten by our elected officials.

It should come as no surprise then that Donald Trump was able to sweep through these mostly-white areas and form a new coalition for the Republican Party. The Democrats have long been unwilling to walk into the heart of darkness to explain why the residents’ jobs and dignity have been stripped from them for the sake of progress. The ex-coal miners and steelworkers do not understand nor care about the destruction of the world from burning fossil fuels. OSHA regulations be damned; they would rather be able to feed their families than be in a safe working environment. The greed of the elite men and women of the businesses they worked for, who shipped their jobs overseas to watch their own profits grow, is directly responsible for the problems in rural Pennsylvania and Michigan. Yet, Trump supporters will say, “The Establishment forced these companies to leave the United States.” They may be right.

The heart of darkness that Marlow spoke of was as ambiguous then as it is today. Now that the election is over it is so hard to tell if those drums heard throughout the country meant war, peace, or prayer. Only time will tell for sure. What is important for all Americans to realize is that the political process neither begins nor ends with an election. An informed and involved society is constantly engrossed in the process. People that hold similar beliefs do not have to wait for an election to band together and compel communities to stand up for what is right.

The practice of criticizing the President-Elect of the United States is not a valuable one for a democracy. Whether or not he is the person we voted for, he is going to be the president, and he will need the full support and wisdom of this country to make the right decisions moving forward. His success will be our success. His failure will be all of our failure. On Washington’s chair, so long ago, Benjamin Franklin pondered as to whether the sun on this country would be a rising or a setting sun. That, ultimately, is the responsibility of the American people.}