Political identity, and a question of conscience

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As a writer, I have enough experience to know that starting an essay with a qualifier isn’t dealing from a position of strength. Still, in this instance, it seems appropriate.

You see, I have a question, and have been mulling possible answers all afternoon. I haven’t found an answer yet that makes much sense, so I thought I’d ask you for help. But before asking my question, I feel the need to explain that my intent is not to put anybody on the spot. I’m not trying to embarrass anyone or anger anyone, and (for once) I’m not being snarky. I assure you, this isn’t some kind of trick; I just genuinely would like to know the answer.

Here’s my question:

If you do not consider yourself to be a misogynist or a racist, why would you want to continue self-identifying as a Republican?

Please, don’t get up in arms! I’ve thought about it, and just can’t come up with an answer that rings true. Perhaps there is a really good answer that just hasn’t occurred to me, which is why I’m asking.

But before you respond, let me take a minute to explain my own thought process. Maybe it will be easier then for you to tell me how my logic is flawed, or how I’ve erred in trying to puzzle this out.

I believe racism still exists in the United States of America. I also believe that most people would tell you racism isn’t cool. Even those people who are honest enough to admit that a racist thought sometimes creeps into their brain, would probably add that it’s not something they’re proud of, and that they’re trying to get better.

Certainly, unapologetic bigots do exist in this country, but I don’t believe theirs is a popular position. Most of the blatantly open racists are on the lunatic fringe, aren’t they? Despite occasional setbacks, society has advanced, hasn’t it? Wouldn’t most people of conscience say that virulent racism and blatant sexism are tough things to defend in 2016?

And that’s where I have this problem, which really came into focus today when a poll worker asked me to confirm that I wished to vote in the Democratic Primary. It made me think, what if I wasn’t a registered Democrat? What if I was a registered Republican, and what if the leader of my party was a virulent racist?

A quick aside for my readers living in other parts of the world: In the United States, we register as one thing or the other — Republican or Democrat — and in a primary election, we vote only for the candidates on that party’s ticket. True, a voter might be an Independent, but even Independents have to choose which primary they’re going to vote in, they can’t do both.

I don’t for a minute believe that every person who identifies as a Republican is a racist or a woman-hater. I know good people, even family members, who are Republicans. These people are good Americans, who hold rational, yet conservative views.

But here’s the thing that keeps stopping me cold: If the presumptive presidential nominee and de facto head of the Republican Party is one Donald J. Trump, and if you do not consider yourself to be a bigot or a woman-hater, why would you even want to continue self-identifying with the party that he leads?

For background, let’s re-examine these statements from Trump’s own mouth:

Exhibit A:  “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.” 

Exhibit B: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with (them). They’re bringing drugs. They’ll bring crime. They’re rapists. … And some, I assume, are good people.

 “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” 

Exhibit C: “Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”

Exhibit D: “If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell.  I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’ ”

Exhibit E: “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

These statements — part of the public record — are racist and misogynistic by any measure, and were made by the standard-bearer of the Republican Party, who now says a federal judge won’t treat him fairly in a civil lawsuit because that judge is of Mexican descent, and will be biased because of Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

I ask you, how can any person of good conscience pledge their support for this man, or even continue to be associated with the party that he leads? And yet there are thousands of you who seem willing to do just that.

What other issues are more important — more basic and fundamental — than a would-be president who despises a significant number of his own citizens because of the color of their skin? Are there worse things than knowing the leader of your party sees your wives, sisters and daughters as mere sex objects? Is being a Republican such a large part of your political DNA that you can shrug off Trump’s remarks, because there are worse things than having a bigot and a woman-hater as the next leader of the free world? Do you really identify with all that?

I just don’t get it, and so I’m asking, someone please explain it to me.

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5 Comments

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  1. IMHO there are a thousand ways that people justify and rationalize their racist and sexist leanings as NOT racist and/or sexist. I spent a fascinating and instructive half hour reading Twitter under the hashtag #curiel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I join you in awaiting an answer that isn’t just an attack on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or that uses “liberal” as an epithet. Fingers crossed, but not hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I keep coming back to a sense of innocence. The average GOP voter is I think someone who may not advocate racism, at least not consciously so, but they also don’t see themselves as implicated in the fight against racism. They think it’s a struggle that has taken the country too far in the other direction and so they oppose many efforts to end racism, not because they wish to see racism succeed, but because they think they can do so without actively promoting racism. In their own minds they are correcting over-zealous liberals. And the GOP has gotten so good at producing this kind of anti-anti-racism that they are very slow to realize when the rationalizations just don’t work and the whole project leads them into a dreamland of white nationalists.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I know people, and relatives , who actually believe they are not racists. They have little contact with people of diff. color and religions. Whatever is on tv, must be true. Without real connections to people, it is pretty impossible to understand the similarities between all of us. While working in NJ, I taught with several Muslims and therefore grew to know them as the kind, loving family oriented people they are. America is so isolated , unless you spend time outside of the hood you were born in, there is little chance to grow. Then there is the tv time vs reading books or magazines and papers from other sides of a coin. i was brought up by parents from the deep south who had their views from childhood, but, they both knew they were wrong and taught us better. Being a military family helped i think, cause we were stationed with all kinds of people. I am so glad i had the opportunity. A friend in AZ asked to borrow a book I had abt an Amer. Muslim girl who was struggling to handle the marriage choice of her parents. The lady read it and was happily surprised that the family in the book had a strong connection to each other and seemed so much like her fam. Duh. If we have to change one mind at a time, ok.

    Liked by 1 person

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