During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton made a remark that might have cost her the election: “Half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a basket of deplorables”. Since 63 million people voted for Trump, that would imply 31.5 million deplorables, plus some who didn’t show up to vote, and some of us who voted for fringe candidates.
Joe Biden voiced the same sentiment in a less articulate fashion, He said that 10–15% of the population were beyond the pale due to their political beliefs. Assuming he meant only 10–15% of adults, we are in the same range of intolerable citizens that Hillary conjured.
The purpose of this blog is to stay out of either ideological cave. I am trying to take a rational look at our political scene and suggest rational solutions to our problems. In this case, I will be flatly partisan. Asserting that a large percentage of the population is beyond the pale, less than acceptable as human beings, is completely unacceptable. Dehumanizing the opposition is the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. Such talk gets you on a path to the gulag or the guillotine. Free speech means that any position short of advocating violence deserves a hearing. Trump’s approval rating hovers around 45%. Asserting that 45% of voters have views that are not worth consideration will not cut it.
The other existential threat to our democracy is the assertion by a surprising number of pundits that looting is an acceptable form of protest. The assertion is that the cancer of racism is so evil that sacrificing a few buildings and some merchandise, which can all be replaced, is an acceptable price to pay in support of Black Lives Matter. We’ll ignore the rule of law for a higher good.
If citizens cannot be secure in the enjoyment of their property and be left in peace to make a living to support themselves and their families, civil society comes to an end. If Target’s stores and those of your local merchant can be sacrificed on the altar of ideology, so can everything else. Your home and your food and your clothes belong to anybody who asserts a grievance.
Joe Biden should heed the lesson of Hillary’s defeat. He would be better off concentrating on a policy agenda that would attract a majority of electoral votes. We all know Trump is a narcissist and a buffoon. Those dismissed as deplorables may vote for him anyway. They might even be a majority in the battleground states, as they were last time. Democrats retook the House by running moderate candidates who promised to reach across the aisle (which they failed to do once they got to Washington). A repeat of the call for moderation, and following up with a bipartisan administration, would be a winning electoral strategy. Demonization is a profoundly dangerous strategy.
Drawing a bright line between peaceful protest and looting/arson is not too tough a job. We should use whatever means necessary to draw that line and protect property rights.