COMMENTARY: Fear and voting in Ashevegas
For 223 years, the highest office in the land has been passed from one man to another without bloodshed or widespread violence. This year the same will likely occur regardless of the sex of the victor.
However, if words were weapons and looks could kill, the 2016 Presidential Election would be the bloodiest in the history of the republic — for this year, the issues don‘t seem to matter to most voters; at this watershed moment in American history, voters seem motivated to support their preferred candidates almost exclusively by fear.
Trump’s strange journey into the heart of the liberal beast — Asheville — drew an estimated 7,000 to a sold-out U.S. Cellular Center Monday night. Few of those in attendance offered substantive or nuanced policy information, instead favoring the naked, ugly hypocrisy America had thus far been able to cloak beneath the blue-hazed smoke of their own living rooms or the white-linened tables of their economically homogeneous social clubs.
“I’m afraid the hate he inspires in other people will affect everyone and we’ll stop being an accepting country like we’re supposed to be,” said Asheville resident Darby Mitchell.
When pressed for specific Trump policies that troubled her, Mitchell had none.
“All of them scare me. They’re just so closed-minded and so not thought-through,” she said. “It’s like he’s not even taking his own campaign seriously.”
Her reason for supporting Hillary Clinton was succinct, and sexist.
“Because I’m a woman,” she said.
Jeff Rose, a software engineer from Asheville, said he came to the rally to make it clear that Trump was not welcome in his town.
“This is not the kind of thing we want to have in Asheville, North Carolina,” Rose said. “I’m afraid that he’s making it acceptable for people to be racist in public.”
Unfortunately, it is and has always been acceptable for people to be sexist and racist in public.
A Trump supporter who identified himself only by, “Tennessee,” said he’d come to the rally “to support the next President” who will somehow make America great again. He supports the unfeasible concept of a border wall as the first step in combating illegal immigration.
Charles Moore, another Trump supporter, agreed with Tennessee’s understanding of the threat of illegal immigration.
“I work in construction,” Moore said. “See these cranes up right here? We do these pours at night over here. I haul concrete. On every one of these jobs it’s sad when you pull up and there’s only like three or four Americans, or white people. Back in the ‘90s you pull up on a construction site the majority was blacks, there was still some Mexicans, or whatever you want to call them — immigrants — but the difference is now, that’s all you see. It’s sad.”
The street vendors pushing wagons and hawking Trump merch — lanyards, shirts, hats, buttons, pins, posters and signs — were overwhelmingly African American. If polls are to be believed, Trump’s support among African Americans is nearly zero — except when there’s money to be made off of his image and likeness.
Do Clinton supporters like Mitchell really believe that supporting a candidate solely because of their sex is reasonable? Do Clinton supporters like Rose really believe that Trump shouldn’t be allowed to voice his opinions? Do Trump supporters like Tennessee and Moore really believe that a multi-billion dollar border wall is currently America’s most pressing need?
Maybe. Or, maybe they’ve just got the Fear, in an election year where America’s two major parties have fielded the worst presidential candidates since, well, ever — voters this year get to choose between a con-artist and a criminal, and continue to argue about which one of those is Hillary Clinton, and which one is Donald Trump.
So batten down the hatches, and cast a suspicious gaze on anyone who doesn’t look like you. Remain armed and vigilant against free speech, coherent thought and well-founded opinions that differ from your own. Ignore political realities and deal only in commodities far more emotional and abstract and illogical. Sow dissent against your least favorite candidate, reap that crop whose name be hatred, and by no means engage in civil discourse, ever; there are less than two months until the election, but this deplorable new normal will haunt American politics for generations to come, no matter who loses.