One of the most unfortunate aspects of this presidential election is the array of unsophisticated attacks meant to degrade and belittle the opposing side. The use of these terms have no place in a political setting, especially when we are deciding the future leader of our country, yet their copious use has made irrational name calling synonymous with politics.
Usually, we hear news of presidential candidate Donald Trump using these tactics, but now Hillary Clinton has contributed a vulgar comment to an already ludicrously hostile presidential race. Clinton called “half” of Trump’s supporters “a bag of deplorables.” What makes this comment especially harmful is how it targets voters rather than Trump himself, and while Clinton has apologized, the damage to her and this election’s integrity has already been done.
The primary issue is how “grossly generalistic,” as Clinton stated, her claim was. She intended to discuss “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamophobic” supporters specifically, but even then that’s a generalization of Trump’s supporters.
Even if these people can be found among his crowd, you don’t need to say “half” to be generalizing all of his followers. When you give such a strong association to members of a group, it affects all of them. Chances are, most of Trump’s supporters don’t believe in any of these ideals and support him for reasons not associated with bigotry. However, they have now been branded with these terms and are associated with hateful acts they take no part in.
Then there’s the word Clinton used to mark Trump’s followers: deplorable. The gravity of this word’s connotation can leave a strong impact. She is stating that all of Trump’s supporters deserve to be strongly condemned, that they are all awful people who must receive punishment.
If Clinton wanted to expose Trump’s ideology and ethics then she should have targeted him specifically as the face and source of his campaign. While his supporters mostly agree with his statements, they may not see eye-to-eye with every one of his ideas. They are still diverse human beings, they are not clones of Trump.
Some of them may have just become conservative and may be voting for him reluctantly, while others might be strongly devoted to him. The point is, candidates should be targeting the actions of other candidates, not their supporters. If something happens with the supporters, the leaders they follow should be blamed, as they are the source of ideological passion.
When I turn on the news to see that the vicious name-calling has branched to supporters, it only lessens my faith in this presidential election. Not only has this damaged Clinton’s integrity, but has punctured this political race. Are harmful slurs the only way to motivate voters today? It seems that our potential future leaders are using our hatred to raise their platforms, igniting our anger into a disruptive form.
Whether it’s Trump or Clinton, the copious amount of abhorrent attacks are creating a deeper divide in our nation. I can’t put my faith into a political race that has become a battleground for vulgar hostility and inciting hatred. How can I support either candidate if I might be reprimanded for the actions of who I support, or generalized with people I have no association with?
If this election year reflects America when one runner takes the oval office, then we are going to need a drastic change. Conservatives and liberals shouldn’t be inspired to use hate against each other, they should be trained to debate in a sophisticated manner.
When you were young, it was perfectly fine to do something if you saw your parents do it. This is the same dynamic that is affecting our society today, and if our leaders behave irresponsibly then Americans are sure to follow.
Featured image credit: Jessie Snyder/The Foothill Dragon Press