Several days ago, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton commented that she can group half of Donald Trump’s voters into what she calls the “basket of deplorables.”
At first glance, this was a non-issue. After all, shouldn’t Trump’s voters be reflective of his egregiously distasteful rhetoric?
To many, the comment by Clinton was a justifiable attack on Trump’s raucous campaign; Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank goes as far as to argue that statistics may support her presumption that her counterpart’s supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”
Regardless of whether or not Clinton’s comments are accurate from a statistical standpoint, this might be the most significant gaffe from the Democratic candidate to date.
If Clinton overcomes growing concerns over her health and Trump’s recent, surprising surge in polls, Republican voters shouldn’t be thrilled — and rightfully so — by the prospect of a president who has blindly labeled nearly half of them as “deplorables.” Such a crass comment sets the stage for another four years marred by gridlock-inducing partisanship.
Above all else, why fuel a Republican base that has consistently displayed a fiery resentment of a candidate who has become the poster child of corruption and unbridled political power? Trump’s self-destructive temperament should be enough to clear an easy path to the White House for the Democratic Party, but thoughtless and provocative behavior from Clinton’s campaign continually unites Trump-backers and their resolve in denying her a seat in the Oval Office.
To be clear, Trump has displayed sexist, homophobic and xenophobic characteristics that render his platform socially and economically disastrous. Furthermore, many Clinton supporters can most likely point to at least one “Never Hillary” voter who has exhibited some level of bullish ignorance that mirrors that of Trump’s campaign.
Yet, Clinton’s comments embody an era of politics embroiled in polarization that young voters should fear.
Combating racism and prejudice should be embedded into the platforms of each party, and failing to take such issues seriously would be a disservice to Americans. That being said, Clinton’s lazy blanket statement is inflammatory and risks heightening frustrations of Republican voters.
If Clinton wants voters to look past her own flawed past, she needs to avoid partaking in the shameless mudslinging of her opponent.
Largely considered an unlikable candidate, she needs to let her strong political resume and more reasonable policy speak for themselves. If Clinton adapts her style to that of Trump’s, she’ll face the same roadblock that former Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz encountered.
A month and a half away out from November, the Clinton and company desperately need to correct their teetering campaign. If they fail to do so, Democrats could see this election slip away to the most deplorable of them all.
Lucas Misera is the opinion editor, contact him at [email protected]