I don't really want to blog about this. It's such an ugly topic. And after you read this post, you are going to want to take a bath. But I promise, there will be a silver lining at the end.
Politics can be so ugly. In fact, it is probably a fair and even generous adjective to put to the word politics. And this current U.S. election isn't any different. Right now in the press, there is so much mud slinging that it makes me feel sick. The two major party candidates are so far off the rails that it makes it almost impossible to endure the topic. Even worse, I am watching friends get sucked deeply into the rhetoric on either side.
First, my political position: I will admit that I am conservative. To give things a bit more clarity, I like to think I am none of the following...
By making that list, I am not accusing ANYONE of being any of those things, including the DNC or the GOP, or any of their followers. Having said that, people say stupid, ignorant stuff from time to time, and I do not condemn them. Here is a short list of stuff I like to imagine I am...
- Hard working
If you are a DNC or GOP American, I would give you the benefit of the doubt that you might feel you are or are not some or all of those things too, respectively. So, for the next five minutes, stop pointing your finger across the political aisle and take a break from vilifying your political anti-doppelganger. Stop ranting about how your worldview values those things and the "other guy" doesn't (again - if you hear your political party telling you they are special and the other guy isn't, and you are buying that hook-line-and-sinker, then... take a break and open up your brain for these few minutes).
Right now Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are full-on fighting like crazy to get your attention so you will vote for them. At the same time, they are trying to bury each other, and they are attempting to disqualify the other candidate, painting such a gloriously bad picture of them that you would feel unethical even throwing your vote that direction (more on that later). The biggest disqualifying label at the moment is... you are a racist!
They aren't calling you a racist. They are calling each other racist. Why are they doing that? Are they both racists? Get ready to feel dirty.
Are They Racist? What they've said
First, I want to leave out the stories I am aware of where other people near the candidate said something racist or seemed racist. Affiliation is dangerous criteria. For example, one could say "David Duke endorses Trump. He would only endorse another fellow racist," or "When Hillary ran for President in 2008, Bill Clinton said of Barack Obama, 'A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee'. Only a racist like Hillary would marry a racist like Bill." Instead, I am going to focus on stuff the candidates have personally said or what they have done.
Firstly, both candidates have a long history in the press, and both candidates are dragging skeletons out of closets as far back as the 1970s. I can't find nearly as many quotes as I can find actions from either of them that people felt were racist. So first, let's look at quotes.
- "(Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel presiding over a class action suit regarding Trump University) is a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings - rulings that people can't even believe."
- (In reference to minorities) "the Hispanics", "the Muslims", "the Blacks"
- (During a visit to the U.S. - Mexican border) "I'll take jobs back from China, I'll take jobs back from Japan. The Hispanics are going to get those jobs, and they're going to love Trump."
- (In 1993, in response to talking about how a casino he would build could compete with a local Tribal American casino) "They don't look like Indians to me... They don't look like Indians to Indians."
- "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. and some, I assume, are good people."
- (After Bill Clinton lost his election to a senate seat, she called Bill's campaign manager) "F**king Jew Bastard" (verifiably witnessed by multiple people)
- (As First Lady, talking about young black men, likening them to dogs) "Super-predators...We have to bring them to heel."
- (Senator Hillary Clinton in a speech, leading up to a quote of civil rights icon Gandhi) "I love this quote. It's from Mahatma Gandi. He ran a gas station down in St. Louis for a couple of years. Mr. Gandhi, do you still go the gas station?"
- (Senator Hillary Clinton about U.S. - Mexico border issues, 2005) "I am adamantly against illegal immigrants."
- (November 2015 - Hillary called people who are here in the U.S. illegally) "Illegal aliens."
Are They Racist? What they've done
At this point, I am going to list just a couple stories from both candidates that outline events that people have decided are evidence of bigoted behavior. This is where most of the "facts" of racism exist for most people. To fairly evaluate such a thing, it requires that you look at the event, listen to two sides of a story, and then you have to take that event and decide if it identifies them as racist individuals. Most people aren't doing that. They only know the stories from the point of view of the people slinging mud.
- The Cinco deMayo taco bowl. Trump was brought a taco bowl by someone on his political team, from the restaurant in the Trump Tower building in Manhattan. A picture of him eating the food was posted to social media and people felt that eating the taco bowl and associating that with Mexican Americans was racist and pandering.
- All lives matter. Trump, during a speech at a Virginia rally, was interrupted by a number of Black Lives Matter protesters. In response, from the microphone, he announced "All lives matter."
- Obama not born in the U.S. (This story gets a lot of play) Trump, for a very long time, questioned whether or not Obama was actually born in the U.S. MSNBC famously insisted that the question was a "racist insinuation."
- Wants to build a wall. The notion of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico has, for a very long time, been deemed racist by motivation.
- Sued for barring black people from his NYC apartments. According to the Washington Post, back in the 1980s in Manhattan, a number of large low-income housing outfits were being sued for misrepresenting housing opportunities and turning away potential black tenants while accepting white tenants. Trump, at 26 years old, owned one of these low-income housing outfits and the legal charge led people to imagine he was personally racist.
- The stuff O'Donnell wrote about me is probably true. Former Trump Plaza Casino COO John O'Donnell wrote in an early 1990s book referencing the review of a black employee in a chapter, that trump said, "I've got black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day... I think that guy is lazy. And it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks." While this was a quote from the book, it is not a recorded quote of Donald Trump. This story gets press because Trump once did quotably say, "The stuff O'Donnell wrote about me is probably true" but it was in response to a broad general question about the book and not specifically in reference to the above story within the book.
- Hot Sauce in her purse. Hillary was on a black radio show and bragged to the host that she always carries hot sauce in her purse. Listeners considered the association of hot sauce with black people to be racist and pandering.
- All lives matter. Hillary just announced her candidacy and started out on the campaign trail. During her speech at a stop at a black church, she announced "all lives matter."
- Photo of Obama in an apparently Muslim outfit. You may recall a famous photo of Obama traveling around the viral internet, showing his dressed in some traditional Muslim-like outfit. This photo came out of the campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2008. It was actually Hillary Clinton's campaign that gave birth to the Birther movement. The photo was intended to make voters in the DNC afraid of selecting him to represent the party in the 2008 presidential election.
- Voted to build a wall between U.S. - Mexico Border. Hillary Clinton, a then-senator from New York, voted to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out "illegal aliens" (her words).
- Off the reservation. As recently as April of 2016, Hillary Clinton characterized her strong ability and experience with wild men like Trump when they "get off the reservation" prompting criticism that Hillary believes Trump is like a savage Tribal American needing to be sequestered to a government-sanctioned plot of land.
- It took you long enough. Mayor Bill de Blasio shows up for an event to endorse Hillary for President, claiming he was late because he was running on "colored people time." The joke didn't go over too well (especially in the days to come) but that didn't stop Hillary from immediately quipping, "Thanks, Bill. It took you long enough," playing out the racist joke perpetuating the stereotype of the laziness and lateness of black people.
Are they racists?
When I ask that question, I mean it in an honest and harsh manner. I am not asking if most people have latent racial bias nurtured into them at some level. I am asking, are Donald and Hillary straight up racists who will not be able to represent the office of president on behalf of minorities? Forget the pandering. They both claim to love everyone and want to represent and serve everyone. Forget all of that. Are - they - racists?
Let me ask this question first. Is your best friend's dad a racist? (Stomach churns a tiny bit). The older generation (your and my parents) are just not keeping up with the way the younger generation communicates. We are trying really hard to not offend anyone (and this gets more difficult, if not impossible, every day) but the older generation just has a way of communicating that often seems heavy laden with preconceived biases. I tend to imagine most of them do not really mean harm. And 90% of the time, people respond well if you explain the problem with the phrase they just employed.
I think they are biased. I believe we all are. I think, in many cases, they might be wrong about what the previous generation imagined was a truth about some stereotype. But I don't really feel that these people are racists. I think they would change when confronted. I think they are socially awkward. These candidates might even have egos so large they cannot even see that they are offending people.
What should we do?
I believe there are two responses in this situation. You have to face the fact that both of these candidates have literally said racist-influenced stuff for the last 40+ years. So, do you vote for them? Ouch. This is my personal battle. I don't know that I want to actually vote a racist into the White House. So either you decide they are, in fact, racists, and you are not voting for a racist (either of them) or imagine that they are like your best friend's dad who is still working to change, but might have a number of old ideological skeletons in the closet that need throwing away. That leaves you with looking at their political platforms and not simply writing them off. This is what I was talking about before. One candidate wants you to believe that the other candidate is racist, therefore you have no choice... you MUST vote for them because the other candidate is a dangerous bigot. But can't they both make that argument?
Personally, I am still on the fence. I see the racists comments, but I am not certain that means they are personally racist in their hearts. If they are, then I don't want anything to do with either of them. Period.
Ok: you can put your political hats back on... "Trump was accused, but never convicted of racist housing behavior! Hillary is the racist! She and Bill have been for years! They've eulogized notorious political racists, calling them their mentors!" or "No way! Trump is clearly the racist here. He spews racists ideas!" ...Oh dude, sad! Go back to favoring your party candidate and stick your head back under the sand. If you hate Trump for seeming racist, then go ahead and hate Hillary for seeming that way as well. Just don't pretend you've seen the truth in Trump, but not in Hillary, or vice versa.