At a Detroit vote count center Wednesday, the contrast between what was happening on either side of its glass doors could not have been more distinct.
Outside, a throng of white Michigan Republicans tried to shout their way past security guards into an area where mail-in ballots were being counted. Chanting “Stop the count,” they looked like extras from “The Walking Dead” as they pressed against the windows and doors, banging on them with fists.
Like President Trump, who sued Michigan and other states to get more poll watchers to observe, they wanted to thwart democracy. Meanwhile, the poll workers inside, many of them Black, went about their solemn business of recording the votes and protecting democracy.
With the largest Black population by percentage of any major American city, Detroit helped make the difference for Joe Biden, who won Michigan. That was also the case in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, where Black people overwhelmingly had Biden’s back.
Biden is poised to become president because Black people voted to make Donald Trump the first one-term president in nearly 30 years. They cast their ballots to defend democracy — while a majority of white people again chose white supremacy.
While more Black voters went for Trump than did in 2016, a wide majority voted for Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. By early estimates, more than 90 percent of Black women and 80 percent of Black men voted for the Democratic ticket.
White voters supported Trump in even greater numbers, including 55 percent of white women, up from 52 percent in 2016. With everything Trump has dragged this nation through since January 2017, a whole lot of white folks looked at the pandemic carnage, rampant racism, wounded economy, and federal dysfunction and said, “Please, sir, may I have some more?”
If the 2016 statistics on white women were a shock, this year’s numbers merit a withering eye roll, but not a bit of surprise.
White affinity for Trump runs deep because so many white people share his overwhelming sense of resentment and victimhood. His enemies are their enemies. They don’t care about his incompetence, dictatorial aspirations, or endless mendacity. What they see is a man who can finally break democracy’s spine, stunting even cursory attempts to move it toward fulfilling its lofty promises.
Equality be damned. They want white supremacist authoritarianism.
Why more people of color cast their ballots for Trump this time is a legitimate question. Yet post-election analysis that fails to scrutinize why more white voters flocked to this president continues to ignore the corrosive elements that have undermined this nation for centuries.
Those elements now want to keep every vote from being counted.
If Trump had waltzed to victory, he wouldn’t be filing lawsuits all over the place. Much the way he promoted voter suppression and intimidation, he again wants his supporters to interfere with the democratic process. His goal remains unchanged — to delegitimize the election and ramp up social discord. Trump is a thief screaming that he is the one being robbed.
In Arizona, an open-carry state, anti-democracy protestors with guns and placards complained of voter fraud, a phony GOP talking point often pushed by Trump. They waved American and Trump flags, but there’s little doubt about which one they pledge their allegiance to. They love only an America that benefits white people. For them, Trumpism trumps democracy.
I’d bet that a Venn diagram of those trying to stop vote counting and those who say protests against police violence and racial injustice are un-American is a circle.
This is a tantrum that, if Trump has his way, will bring the country to a standstill or worse. He doesn’t care about what’s right, only what’s right for him. Democracy is nothing more to him than collateral damage.
But, as usual, Black people won’t allow that. We have vanquished Trump. We will see a Black woman as vice president, the first woman to hold that position. When we vote in our best interest, it is in the nation’s best interest. We are democracy’s most ardent guardians, and that’s why people like Trump work so hard to disenfranchise us. Hope runs in our veins, resilience fills our lungs. We want from this nation as much as we give it. Biden is about to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming president; he will be reminded early and often who got him there.
This nation’s unpaid bills are long overdue. Let America finally be as invested in saving Black people as we are in saving America from itself.
Renée Graham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.