My daughter’s eyes were beginning to glaze over. Evidently, after a good hour of withstanding my interminable barrage of admonishments and admonitions, she’d had her fill. Clearly, whatever words of mine slipped into her left ear smartly had exited her right one in short order. My last point needed to come right away or be forever lost. So quickly, I shifted gears and cautioned her to, “Watch the company you keep.”
The crowd you run with, I explained, makes a statement about you and often enough speaks in equal volume as anything you personally may do. When someone wants to understand who you are, I instructed, they look not only to your record, but also to whom you call “friend.” Fairly or otherwise, I cautioned, people presume the truth of that time-tested adage: birds of a feather flock together.
It makes sense that we generally befriend folks with whom we share something(s) in common.
That lesson applies to Election Day politics and how we’ve voted today as well. In this election more than many, who we cast our ballot for may speak volumes about who we are and what we individually consider desirable or tolerable. This especially is true of Donald Trump’s supporters.
Because Trump is inexperienced in politics, has never held a political office and repeatedly has proven himself thin on matters of policy and current events, a vote for him is much more an approval of Trump the person than an expression of confidence in his politics. Trump is combustible and bombastic in a way that makes his policy positions secondary.
He is rhetorically racist, xenophobic and misogynistic. He’s abrasive, undisciplined and petty. His politics are corrosive, incendiary and divisive. He’s a master of put-downs and insults.
In the 2016 election cycle, that is how Donald Trump has allowed himself to be portrayed. And that’s okay because he’s only one man. But, what about the rest among us who are just fine with letting Donald be Donald?
What about those who cosign his antics? What about you if you cast your vote today for him?
If you know Trump has been comfortable making racist statements, for example, and you knowingly and voluntarily choose to align with him, well, what does that say about you?
On one hand, someone might reasonably conclude you share Trump’s racist views. Certainly, a substantial chunk of Trump’s support hails from the alt right which believes white identity is under attack. Even worse, groups like the Ku Klux Klan have proudly endorsed Trump saying he speaks their language. Sharing Trump’s racist point of view might explain how someone could vote for him.
But it’s not the only explanation. Casting a vote for Trump doesn’t immediately suggest someone is a racist (or misogynist or xenophobe, etc) themselves.
At a minimum though, it means none of his offenses is in your container of non-negotiables. None of those are non-starters. Not the insults, bullying, racism, misogyny nor xenophobia are extreme enough to be considered deal breakers. You can tolerate any one or all of those long enough to check the box by his name – presumably because none of that directly impacts you.
But, what about your friends who can’t turn a blind eye to that behavior or those beliefs, what do you say to them?
You might say you agree with Trump’s policies and that he’s one heckuva businessman. In that case, however, the facts would challenge you as they show him an inch deep on policy matters, and his business success is dubious.
You could argue it’s all about principles. You could reason – as many conservatives have – that placing Hillary Clinton in office would swing the court to the left and endanger issues you hold dear. That’s reasonable.
However, at the end of the day you still wind up voting for the same guy the Klan loves. At the end of the day, you’re still voting with the Klan. At the end of the day, are those the feathers you want to see flapping around you?
Or would you be better off just getting the flock out of here?
© Copyright 2016, Jonathan Clarke, All rights reserved