A Man of the People?

Cartoon by Luke Benicase.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has publicly degraded minority groups verbally and through discriminatory action, is now attempting to make amends with the very demographics he disparages.

Trump is trying to do this without apologizing or even acknowledging that his disrespectful remarks were ever made in the first place. While he now understands the importance of securing the minority vote, he still fails to practice the respect and honesty necessary to earn it.

As exemplified in President Obama’s consecutive victories, the minority vote has made an unmistakable impact in past elections. His presidency was made possible only through the immense support he gained from multiple minority groups, and future candidates may depend on them to the same extent.

Will anyone trust Trump if he is only now realizing the importance of the minority voter and making efforts to win them over?

We at The New Paltz Oracle would like to remind his supporters that racism and bigotry cannot be forgiven by a few token gestures of civility. Trump remains an extremely discriminatory figure who does not concern himself with the well-being of minority America.

On Sept. 1, Trump visited the Great Faith Ministries International, a church in Detroit, in an attempt to appeal to its largely black congregation. After receiving a prayer shawl for the duration of the service from the church’s pastor, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, Trump told The New York Times, “I feel better already.”

Later that day, he praised the churchgoers for their religious values, declared interest in charter schools for the first time and promised to create jobs in minority neighborhoods— all without acknowledging his racist remarks or their repercussions. 

At an Alabama campaign rally in November 2015, Trump supporters physically beat a black man protesting against Trump while yelling “black lives matter”. The next day, Trump neglected to condemn the actions taken by his supporters, and added, “maybe [the protester] should have been roughed up… It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

Trump’s opinions on LGBTQIA+ rights ranged from indifference to mild support for some time before the race. After announcing his candidacy, however, he declared support only for traditional marriage. During a January 2016 Fox News interview, when Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he would appoint justices to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, Trump replied, “I would strongly consider that, yes.”

This evidence suggests that Trump has adopted these opinions for the sake of building a platform attractive to his religious, conservative audience. His stances on LGBTQIA+ rights, while certainly unfair, carry none of the vitriol and venom he has reserved for Muslims and Mexicans, but the fact remains that Trump’s candidacy carries a toxic platform perpetuated by his supporters. 

At a campaign event held in the wake of the Pulse shootings in Orlando, Trump offered his solution to hate-crimes against the demographic by proposing stricter immigration laws against Muslims. On the surface, his comment appeared to be in defense of the LGBTQIA+ community, but their name was only invoked to further condemn Muslims seeking to live in the United States.

Trump claimed that all Muslims who immigrate to America uphold the support for laws calling for violence against women and death penalty for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration to our country,” Trump said.

Through this proposal, Trump displays even more ignorance by assuming all potential immigrants of the Muslim faith subscribe to violence against the LGBTQIA+ community.

The few promises that he backs up with certainty and precision – namely, “extreme vetting” for Muslims and the border wall for Mexico – border on the fantastical in terms of practicality. They also make up almost all of the memetic appeal of Trump’s platform; perhaps they were the only promises he deemed necessary to back up with specificity.

Let us not forget that Trump himself said that women who get abortions should be subject to “some form of punishment,” at a campaign event in Appleton, Wisconsin back in March.

Looking beyond his expression of toxic views that have alienated Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, even casual observers of this election have noticed the characteristic vagueness that Trump’s rhetoric relies on.

Despite the fact that Trump himself has been careful to avoid promises, his supporters have filled in the blanks easily enough. His rallies have achieved infamy for the intolerance and violence which can only reflect what his platform for presidency really depends on. A Trump presidency is an ignorant, bigoted and racist presidency and must be avoided at all costs if there is hope for social harmony in this country.

Editorials represent the views of the majority of the editorial board. Columns, op-eds and letters, excluding editorials, are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The New Paltz Oracle, its staff members, the campus and university or the Town or Village of New Paltz.