A couple of commenters to yesterday’s blog leveled a criticism of my post that I think is valid.
My statement that many of Trump’s supporters are bigots came far too close to the same sort of name-calling that distresses so many of us when Trump engages in it. Although I did say “many” (in an effort to acknowledge that the epithet doesn’t apply to everyone who is supporting him) that statement was both too broad-brush and too dismissive. Flat assertions of that sort do not encourage mutually respectful communication, to put it mildly.
So, mea culpa.
Here’s the conundrum: It has become increasingly obvious that Trump and his most ardent supporters present a “clear and present danger” to American constitutional and social values. As a country, we need to understand the dynamics of this phenomenon, and why a man so manifestly unfit for the Oval Office nevertheless appeals to so many voters.
Survey research suggests that a significant number of Trump supporters are responding to his message of racial grievance and white nationalism–and we can’t afford to ignore that reality. We need to consider what it implies and what to do about it, because even if–even when–Trump loses, those grievances will still be there, waiting to be inflamed by the next demagogue.
We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and simply hope this ugly moment passes. We need to identify the fault lines and discuss them candidly.
That said, we need to acknowledge–I needed to acknowledge–that some people are supporting Trump because they are loyal Republicans, or because they haven’t followed the election news closely, or because they don’t trust reporting from what Sarah Palin dismisses as the “lame stream media,” or because they’re just “mad as hell and not going to take it [the status quo] any more,” and don’t recognize the likely (disastrous) consequences of electing this particular “disruptor” to the most powerful office on earth.
One of the most troubling aspects of the Trump campaign thus far has been the normalization of nasty, uncivil discourse. It should be possible to conduct even brutally honest analyses of troubling political behavior without sinking into”Trump-like” name-calling.
I intend to be more careful with my own language in the future.