Last week, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took a shot at not just her opponent, Donald Trump, but also his supporters. “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” she said. “Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”
Trump called on her to apologize, and Clinton later tried to walk back the remarks, but some observers say her comments were similar to Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” gaffe during the 2012 election.
Were Clinton’s remarks wrong? What does this mean for the presidential race? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlue America columnists, debate the issue.
On the same day Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” comment, three leaders of white nationalist, alt-right groups gave a joint press conference in Washington to do two things.
First, they wanted to praise Trump’s presidential candidacy, both for his leadership style and because it has been a vehicle for their newfound prominence. Second, they wanted to explain their vision of America as a homeland to those of European stock. (There was some argument among the three whether Jews could be involved in their movement.)
“I want my grandchildren to look like my grandparents,” said Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist website American Renaissance, “not like Fu Manchu or Whoopi Goldberg or Anwar Sadat.”
On Saturday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin told the Values Voters Summit that physical violence might be needed to survive the tyranny of a Clinton presidency.
“I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price?” he asked. “The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots.”
Deplorable? Sure. Kind of icky, in any case.
Underlying all this, Trump himself. He launched himself into politics with a racist campaign to suggest that President Obama wasn’t really born in the United States — an attack he has never disavowed, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary. Trump made his bones as a politician, then, by embracing the deplorably dark side.
So it’s no surprise that polls show, as Vox has reported, that “compared to white people, black people are viewed by Trump supporters as less intelligent, more lazy, more rude, more violent, and more criminal. About 40 to 50 percent of Trump supporters held at least one of these views, while fewer than 35 percent of Clinton supporters did.”
Sure seems deplorable.
Should Clinton have said what she said? Well, it was certainly impolitic. But if you don’t like being called deplorable, don’t be deplorable. Clinton’s comments might’ve been bad politics, but they contained more than a little truth.
Question for the reader: Until you read the name nine paragraphs ago, had you ever heard of Jared Taylor? I’m betting the answer is a no. And you are unlikely to hear or read his name again. Because he’s not especially important and his ideas appeal to a small slice of aggrieved Americans.
Might some of them vote for Trump? Sure. So what?
Bevin, the Kentucky governor, quoted Thomas Jefferson when he referred to the “tree of liberty.” Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which is good. But he also owned slaves, supported the French Revolution before the Terror and was a forefather of the modern Democratic Party, which surely makes him triply deplorable.
Burn down Monticello!
Think of it this way: The Communist Party of the United States of America recently endorsed Clinton for president. Communist regimes in the 20th century were responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 million people. Americans who subscribe to a genocidal ideology also support Clinton. That’s beyond deplorable.
On the other hand, how many bona fide communists are there in the United States today? Excluding university faculty members, you might be able to fill up Yankee Stadium.
Still, if Trump’s campaign is supposed to denounce this person or that, then Clinton’s campaign must be held to the same standard. Americans have a right to know that the next leader of the free world will not truck with advocates of mass murder.
See how that works?
It’s a mug’s game. Don’t play it.
On it’s own, Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” crack doesn’t matter much. In a broader context, it matters quite a bit.
The same day three guys from the alt-right gave a press conference that attracted far more attention than it deserved, the 68-year-old Democratic nominee for president was reportedly diagnosed with pneumonia. But her campaign said nothing about it until Sunday, when Clinton collapsed at a 9/11 memorial event.
Last week, questions about Clinton’s health were the stuff of conspiracy theorists — at least according to the Clinton campaign and her enablers in the press.
You know what’s deplorable? That’s deplorable.
Joel Mathis is an award-winning writer in Kansas. Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or www.facebook.com/benandjoel.