This was a question asked by Jack Tapper to Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke. A question that O’Rourke did not answer.
President Trump has a shot at being reelected in 2020. If this comes to fruition, there will be continued discussions about the rise of white nationalism under the mistaken notion that the only people who would vote for Trump are racists who support it.
Let me take a step back and clearly state that I did not and never will vote for Donald J. Trump who is, by the very definition of the word, a racist.
Definition of a Racist: A person who is prejudiced against or antagonistic toward people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.
Trump has been antagonistic towards Hispanics, Blacks, African’s, and African American’s. Even his staunchest supporters would have a tough time denying this with any degree of logic or credibility.
What else is true is that our country is in a very divided place — one that invites the ideas that not supporting is opposing and not opposing is supporting. This may be why Beto did not answer the question. He knows that there are non-racists who will vote for Trump. He also knows that such a view would be in direct opposition to what many Democrats and liberals believe. And, like any politician running for office, he is trying to rally as much support as he possibly can.
Still, Jake Tappers question is a very important one; how we respond to it even more so. The sooner one believes that only racists would vote for President Trump:
- The sooner one continues the easy train to generalization;
- The sooner one stops trying to understand people;
- The sooner one loses sight of what Trump’s non-racist supporters value;
- The sooner one loses the battle of recruiting them for important votes in the very election they are trying to turn blue
It is very possible that someone could read these bullets and perceive that I am an active recruiter for the Democratic party. I am not. I did not vote for Hilary in 2016 and I am very much an independent heading into 2020. It’s just not that difficult to understand what gets lost when we lose ourselves on oversimplified assumptions and generalizations. We look at a person (Trump), see a trait (racism) they exhibit, and presume that anyone who would support the person must also share that trait.
We have made a habit of making short sighted mental leaps about people. It’s a big reason that we are in the culture predicament we are in. For instance:
“If you support a woman’s right to choose, you oppose the rights and lives of children.”
“If you are opposed to open borders, you are in support of human suffering in countries that don’t enjoy the same rights and freedom’s as America.”
“If you support gun control, you are in opposition to an American’s right to protect themselves.”
“If you support Kamala Harris in 2020, you are in direct opposition to the minorities that she put away while practicing law in California.”
“If you are pro-life, you are opposed to women’s rights.”
These are path of least resistance assumptions that we are making about people every day.
Truth: There are people who support the re-election of Donald Trump because they agree with his fiscally conservative views and policies. A lot of these same people criticize his racist rhetoric but will not support a Democratic candidate who campaigns on promises to tax the rich at steep rates.
Truth: There are people who support the re-election of Donald Trump because they agree with his views and policies on international relations. Again, they’re not crazy about his antics but they tire of America being the savior of the world at the expense of American’s.
Truth: There are people who support the re-election of Donald Trump because they support the conservative philosophies around abortion, health care, marriage, etc. They will push aside his idiocies all day every day because, in their eyes, unborn children and maintaining the sanctity of marriage are critical.
Can you see their perspectives? Can you understand where they are coming from? Can you do these two things without agreeing with them? Would you expect the same in return? As you mull these questions, let’s take a step back and reread the exact question Jake Tapper asked: “Is It Racist to Vote for Trump in 2020?”
This question could actually be approached from two different angles. Angle one may be focused on whether people who vote for Trump in 2020 are racist. Angle two may be focused on whether the act of voting for Trump in 2020 is racist regardless of the person doing the voting. In other words, a vote for Trump is a vote for a known racist and thus is in direct support of racism.
I did my best to provide rationale for how a non-racist person could see themselves voting for Trump in 2020. A Trump supporter recently asked me, “if he is the only Republican nominee for President in 2020 and I agree that he is racist, do I vote for no one?” Another supporter in the same conversation replied, “if you vote for no one, how does that help the greater conservative good?”. Both railed against his racist and “buffoonish” tendencies while acknowledging that they are not willing to give the White House to Democrats. Does this mean that they are racist people? These views, in and of themselves, do not make them racist.
Angle two is a completely different beast. If, for instance, one were to acknowledge the definition of a racist and make the logical connection that Trump is racist, it becomes difficult to suggest that a vote (the act) for Trump in 2020 is not racist.
There are those who will acknowledge that he makes antagonistic remarks but won’t label him racist because they equate being racist to saying the ’N’ word or overtly supporting segregation. They would be wrong. Racism isn’t just about separate water fountains and specific word usage.
There are others who will defend their vote by insisting that not voting for Trump clears a certain path for conservative views to be sidelined while a Democrat moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Historically speaking, people from all walks of political life have campaigned and voted for candidates with known ethical and moral issues on account of wanting to ensure that their party gets as many seats at the table. This includes Democrats who acknowledged ethical challenges attached to Hilary Clinton but who voted for her regardless. Still, if a Republican can determine that a vote for Hilary was a vote for crooked politicians, a Democrat can certainly determine that a vote for Trump is a racist vote. People can’t have it both ways.
Behind Jake Tapper’s question is really another philosophical landmine. It is an ideal some share that we shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which part of a person or their agenda we support. When Aziz Ansari, Casey Affleck, and Louis C.K. were accused of and, in the latter’s case, admitted to inappropriate sexual conduct, some people grappled with whether or not to see their movies and shows while others drew a very straight line and said hell to the no. Trump’s antics have put a lot of people squarely in the ‘hell to the no’ position. From their lens, anyone who can’t draw this straight line is in support of his agendas (all of them) and is opposed to the progression of humanity. Those who oppose this view would cite a common lack of moral integrity that all politicians share. They preach a reality that no human is without flaws and that if we are to hold everyone to a moral high ground, there would be no one to vote for. As such, they stop focusing on the person and place more of their support to the ideals of the party they are attached to.
If there were an occupation that yielded the most institutional distrust in this country, it would be that of a politician. With very few exceptions, we don’t trust them. We believe that they lie. We believe that they steal. We believe that they will do and say anything to get elected. We, we, we, and we. And yet, Jake Tapper’s question isn’t about politicians, it is about Trump and whether or not a vote for him is racist. What’s more, it is the very words of our sitting President that makes the question understandable, necessary even. And while people may factually argue that they are not racist people for voting for him, it becomes difficult to not attach the ‘racist’ word to the very vote that may keep an antagonist to the minority community in the White House.