The President Is the Most Dependent Person in the World
American exceptionalism rubs me the wrong way because the myth-making of whiteness rubs me the wrong way. If you watch Congressional hearings, you get plenty of American exceptionalism. But a better world will come when American superiority ends.
As much as I loved the late Congressman Elijah Cummings, it bothered me when he said: “We’re better than this.” We’re not. It would’ve been more accurate to say, “We want to be better than this” or “We should be better than this.” Either phrase would’ve been fine because the truth doesn’t always ring or roar.
Lies aren’t always loud either. During the public portion of the impeachment hearings, the committee members irritated me when they referred to “the most powerful person in the world,” as if that’s an honorific and one that presidents get by merit or virtue. It’s not and they don’t.
The activist-scholar Steve Martinot has a powerful quote that’s relevant in his book, “The Machinery of Whiteness.” As Martinot discusses white supremacy’s “self-congratulation” for “objectively” being what it considers the “best and the mightiest,” Martinot delivers this insight —
That statement speaks to domestic and foreign relations — Power is always a disguised dependency on the dominated. The philosopher George Yancy adds more by describing whiteness as “a parasitic identity.” No power over others is self-made; the U.S. and its president are parasitic too.
Isn’t the president the most dependent on U.S. tax dollars, and doesn’t the commander-in-chief need the most protection? The powers of the presidency come from dominating the world’s people and the world’s resources. U.S. power depends on its ability to dominate and exploit.
In particular, U.S. power is based on the oppression of Black people. So, to talk about U.S. power with no caveats is like claiming the purity of white identity because whiteness is a denial of Blackness — even its own blackness. Oppression is an asterisk that belongs on every flag and on every claim of American greatness; the annual Independence Day is a hoax because America’s existence isn’t independent — it’s an abuse of power.
That power must be exceptional, but to proclaim and celebrate that power without exception is to support some version of The United Daughters of the Confederacy. That power requires a deep reckoning. And the verdict from that reckoning must find the most powerful — the most dependent.