Last week, Blade contributor Peter Rosenstein asked, “Why aren’t more Trump supporters embarrassed by him?”
Rosenstein then proceeded to explicitly endorse Hillary Clinton’s 2016 “deplorables” slur, called the president a “disgusting pig,” and opined that “many of his supporters are as racist, sexist and homophobic as he is.” He expressed astonishment that some Trump supporters are in fact intelligent and well traveled, and judged these as “despicable” and “not rational” even if they don’t fit easily into the “deplorable” basket.
Like many Trump critics, Rosenstein suffers from a “chicken and egg” misconception. The people who voted for Trump were used to being belittled and slurred as racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, etc., for decades. The difference is that now we have a loud voice providing a counterpoint to these ad-hominem attacks. I don’t think many Trump voters would argue that he is morally perfect, but he provides breathing space for conversations and debates about policy questions that have long been put off limits by the media and the establishments of both parties.
The author can’t help but invoke the left’s moral panic of the moment when he says Trump is “OK with letting asylum seekers live in squalid detention camps” and “separating children from parents and putting children in cages.” Before assigning malicious motives, it might be more productive to take a breath and ask rational questions about an incredibly complex situation. Mass human migration is challenging political structures across the world, and all of the policy options are difficult. Many of the inflammatory photos used to attack President Trump on this issue were actually taken during the Obama administration. Why would a progressive president of color allow such a thing? Because we have hundreds of thousands people walking over the border who we have no knowledge of and not enough resources to care for. Many bring children. How do we know these anonymous adults are actually the parents of the children? Furthermore, we need to house these people somewhere until we figure out who they are and process their asylum claims. The law says we cannot detain children with adults, so the children are being kept in separate facilities. The Democrats complain that the facilities are substandard.
Obviously to be improved they must be properly funded, but the left is resistant to this also.
It’s in the context of the border crisis that some Democrats may be receiving a wake-up call about gratuitous overuse of the “racist” slur. Freshman congresswoman and Democratic thought-leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has repulsively referred to our border facilities as “concentration camps,” recently bristled at the passage of a border-funding bill (partially meant to improve detention facilities) with near-unanimous Democratic support. She even implied that her own caucus leader and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a racist.
Speaking of AOC, in an interview earlier this year she said, “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.” Though I disagree vehemently with AOC’s views and methods, this quote taken out of context is an apt description of the feelings of many Trump voters. Trump may be an imperfect messenger, he may boast and brag and exaggerate, but at the core he understands our concerns and is willing to fight for them, and we are pleased with the general thrust of his policies.
Just like any winning national political coalition, we are highly diverse. Some of us are blue-collar, small town, and more easily discarded in the “deplorable” basket. Some of us are sophisticated professionals with nuanced opinions about a complicated set of policy questions. Many of us are gay, lesbian, trans and urban. We are complex individuals and independent thinkers and we come in all shapes and sizes. We are also done with being bullied and marginalized, and if you value free thought and speech, you should join us in opposing the kind of political intimidation that led to the necessity of Trump-style populism in the first place. If a liberal San Francisco Democrat like Nancy Pelosi can be framed as a deplorable, so can you.
Rosenstein answered his own question in the form of last week’s column. Many LGBT Republicans had serious misgivings about Trump in 2016, and some still do. What I can tell you for sure is that many more gays in the DMV support him today because of the relentlessly hostile and unfair treatment he’s received in the media from day one. We do not have the luxury to be more embarrassed by President Trump because the endless, unoriginal and gratuitous attack pieces against him (and us) like yours won’t allow us to be.
Adam Savit is president of the Log Cabin Republicans of the District of Columbia.