What a vote for Trump says to Black Americans

UPDATE: I did not end up voting for Hillary Clinton. My concerns were too grave.

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I want to address my white, conservative readers, the ones considering voting for Donald Trump next month.

I myself am a conservative in many matters. And, I, too, believe Hillary Clinton has a long history of dishonesty*. The peril she chose to put our country in by using a private email server during her time as Secretary of State astounds me. I do not believe one word she has said on this subject or on many others.

I am, however, planning to vote for her.

Why? Because the Republican party has chosen to nominate a candidate who is far worse. As one conservative writer has aptly said,

Clinton’s faults, deep as they are, are the faults of a normal politician. Trump’s are in another category….The further we go into this campaign, the harder it is to believe that the US faces equal danger from these two.

Many excellent pieces have been written (by conservative writers!) on the particular danger a President Trump would pose due to his radical immaturity, complete self-obsession, and total lack of self-control. Not to mention the way such a man would degrade the office of the President. (For examples, see here, here, and here.) I will not re-trod here the arguments made so well in these pieces and many others.

Instead, I want to suggest one more thing you need to consider when contemplating voting for Donald Trump. One less discussed issue is what a vote for Trump communicates to Black and Latino Americans. 

Voting for Trump says to your fellow citizens, I do not care about you, your safety, or your rightful place in our society. 

To my mind, that is a reasonable way to interpret a Trump vote. This is a man, after all, who refused to denounce David Duke and whose first comments as a presidential candidate were about Mexicans being rapists. Indeed, to propel his campaign, he has stoked the hatred of avowed white supremacists.

I do not believe that all is fair in love, war, and presidential campaigns, that anything goes when you’re running for office. As the 2015 Charleston massacre showed, there are still white supremacist neo-Nazis in our society. We should not be naive about this. Rather than diminish their influence, Donald Trump has given them respect and a larger platform….to the danger of our fellow citizens. This is shameful. More than shameful.

Now, you may say, I am not a racist. I am voting for Donald Trump for totally different reasons. These decisions are complex, and cannot be boiled down to just one issue. That may be, but you need to understand that your vote will be interpreted as a complete dismissal, if not act of hatred, by American communities of color.

I, for one, am not willing to say to Black, Latino and other Americans of color, I see how Trump has fanned flames of white supremacy, and I hear your pain over that, but that’s not my top priority. Sorry, I just care about other things more. 

Can you imagine saying that to the faces of your friends and acquaintances of color? Make no mistake, that’s exactly what a vote for Trump says, whether you intend it to or not. I beg you to grapple with that. Please think hard about how willing you are to wound entire communities and to support their worst fears about white Americans.

If you think I’m wrong, I encourage you to go talk to people of color in your life and ask what a vote for Trump means to them personally.

* Originally I wrote that Hilary Clinton is “a dangerous liar.” After a friend challenged me on the helpfulness of such labeling, I edited it to say that she has “a long history of dishonesty.”

© Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2016

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10 thoughts on “What a vote for Trump says to Black Americans

  1. Hi Laura,

    I like what you have written. Maybe because I could have written much of it myself. But my decision is different. I cannot in good conscious vote for Donald Trump. I cannot in good consceince vote for Hillary either.

    The e-mail questions are not my only qualm about Hillary. Physically I am very skeptical that she is up for one of the most stressful jobs in the world. But probably more than those two things, her failures as Secretary of State that led to the Ben Gazi attack and the lies told afterward to insure O’bama’s re-election are completely unacceptable. I know, who is talking about Ben Gazi anymore? I haven’t forgotten, and I don’t know why her handling of that – before, during and after – shouldn’t be heavily weighed.

    So I will be voting for Gary Johnson, or someone else. The truth is it doesn’t matter who I vote for. Since I am not going to vote for the Republican or the Democrat my vote will go to. Someone who has no chance of winning.

    So am I wasting my vote? Maybe. But there is a need for change in this country that neither of the two major parties offer. They are the problem. They no longer serve the people, they serve themselves, on both sides of the aisle. So I will cast a vote that shows that neither of the choices are okay for me.

    Remember Brewster’s Millions? https://youtu.be/bXEglx-or6k If you remember it or if you don’t, this movie clip from 20 or 30 years ago seems so timely.

    So Laura, would you consider voting for neither of the above?

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Chris. I totally hear you. My issues with Hillary go far beyond the one I mentioned, the private server. I meant it as only a single example.
      I have contemplated voting for a third option. I like the idea of communicating with our votes that enough is enough, we need something different from the current two parties.
      BUT I am too afraid of handing the election to Donald Trump by voting for someone besides Hillary. And I do live in a battleground state, as do you. (I guess the accurate way to describe my vote would be to say that I am voting AGAINST Trump rather than that I am voting FOR Clinton.) As much as I dread a Clinton presidency, I outright fear a Trump one because of 1) his impulsivity while having the nuclear codes 2) his ability to destabilize the world further by withdrawing from / dismissing NATO and 3) his likelihood of degrading the civility in our society even further by the things he says and tweets while occupying the office of the President. I simply cannot imagine my girls growing up with such a shameless, lewd vulgarian as our head of state. It gives me hives. And so I feel I need to do everything I can to keep that from happening…which means voting for Hillary.

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  2. Joe M

    I’m going with Johnson also. I don’t see Hillary as just a flawed candidate. I see her as a flawed person. She is in my opinion a person that is rather paranoid. A female Nixon. In response to this paranoia she takes unilateral action that is not in the best interest of her country.
    This paranoia is made evident in her email scandal. She could not let go enough to let really qualified people to handle it. Her desire for privacy made her emails less private to the people who could do this country harm.
    This paranoia has been evident in her repeated actions to cover, delay and obstruct inquiry even if at times those requests were unreasonable. She was not in a position that she should go unexamined, after she put herself out there for examination. She was quite willing to go on the record in one issue like healthcare, so she should have expected inquiry into activities that were very questionable like the cattle futures scandal.
    Finally when she was putting together her signature healthcare piece, she felt it necessary to develop the plan in secret without outside output. There is more wisdom in multiple streams of wisdom coming together rather than an arbitrary decision on a single plan, without that plan getting vetted. As a result all of this shows a lack of understanding and good judgment. And is more reminiscent of the lack of tolerance with which the right wing is always accused of.
    Not enough examination was made of what happened to real people during whitewater. Those people unfortunate enough to miss a payment to Whitewater development lost their house after just one missed payment. In any other world that would be called predatory lending. their being allowed to get away with this by the media, forever tarnished my view of the media. It communicates that they believe that the ends justify the means. That is a philosophy that has cost untold millions their lives and livelihoods.

    In short about trump is that he is a belligerent brute with a blatant disregard for rules, and no self control. As I was talking to one of my friends we agreed that he is in short that uncle or grandpa that you really don’t want others to know that he is related to you. Whether it be his tax issue or others he views every decision through the lens of whether it’s good for business. Not everything that can be sold for a profit is good for society. We as a society make judgments about the benefit of alcohol, abortion, cigarettes, drugs, prostitution, … and we chose to ban some or all or none, but these things are not valuable to society even if some derive large profits from their sale.

    In the end I can’t support a paranoid or a borderline personality.

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  4. Holly Webster

    And so … in Salt Lake City, we have had, in last 2 days, a dozen incidents in middle/high schools of racially-motivated bullying. When we elect someone like Trump, who has been incredibly bigoted, the adults in the country get tacit approval to behave likewise, which trickles down to children. We reap what we sow.

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    1. Exactly, Holly. These incidents have been happening all over the country, many by kids and some by adults. Americans of color are justifiably terrified. I have also read about young girls being targeted and told their p***sy was open for the grabbing now.

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      1. Holly Webster

        NO WAY … really, so it isn’t just racism, it is sexism. Why should I be surprised. This is the face of Trump, the mouth of Trump who doesn’t understand empathy, tolerance, community. Aaaargh

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