Sunday, September 11, 2016

Deplorable Discourse

This past Friday Hillary Clinton made reference during a fundraiser to the "basket of deplorables" that constitutes much of Donald Trump's base, specifically saying that it's important not to lump in voters with genuine concerns and genuine worries with the racists, bigots, misogynists who the candidate has both courted and done little to distance himself from.

(As it happens, my garage band in high school was also called Basket of Deplorables.)

Anyway, people naturally pounced on the "deplorables" part of the comment, with many calling this Clinton's equivalent of Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" comment four years ago. I don't see it as comparable. To be clear, I think the way she spoke was clumsy and not helpful. However, the underlying assessment wasn't wrong. Were I one of her writers, I probably would have phrased it as something like this:
"His brand of politics is so toxic that it's given oxygen to some of the worse elements in our society. Bigots. Racists. Misogynists. That's not who we are as a country. But it's also not all of his supporters. We want to be very careful before dismissing people's very real worries about the country, the economy, and their families. We need to listen to their concerns and address them."
Or something in that vein. Still conveys the same message without the "half" gaffe. That, plus it avoids creating a new meme in "basket of deplorables," which has naturally had booster rockets strapped onto it by folks in the Trump circle who are shocked -- shocked! -- that Hillary Clinton is being mean to them. This is mostly phony outrage, of course, as emphasized by The Washington Post's Greg Sargent:
Two things can be true at the same time: First, Clinton overgeneralized about what’s in the hearts and minds of Trump supporters. Second, her underlying characterization of the general nature of many of Trump’s campaign appeals — and her related observation that they really are successfully playing on the baser instincts of an untold number of Trump’s supporters — are 100 percent accurate.  
Every single reporter and commentator closely following this race knows full well that Trump’s campaign is fueled, at least to some degree, by tacit or even overt appeals to bigotry or efforts to encourage a sense among many Trump backers that white identity and white America are under siege.
The numbers are the numbers. And the number of Trump supporters who are indeed deplorable is both sad and shocking. Read the rest from Sargent here.

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