To my friends on the right, it may be tempting to gloat and rest easy in the massive wins at almost all levels of government which we have won. However, we have some soul-searching to do.
Some conservatives were excited at the thought of a Donald Trump presidency, some reluctantly gave him their vote considering him the lesser evil and some rejected him entirely, opting to vote third-party or not vote at all. No matter what camp you are in, there is no denying that the Republican nominee and president-elect made blatant appeals to racism throughout the past 18 months.
Conservatives spend most of their political endeavors fighting off claims of racism, sexism and all the rest of the “isms”. To some extent, there’s no winning that battle. Many on the left will label conservatives these things no matter what they do and no matter who they nominate. For example, in February, Salon wrote an article called saying that “Rubio and Cruz are the real monsters.” In 2012, Joe Biden said to a gathering of African-American people that “[Mitt Romney] is going to put y’all back in chains.”
Given these constant attacks on their character, conservatives reflexively defend themselves against claims of racism, sexism and every other form of vicious discrimination. However, conservatives must be intellectually honest.
President-elect Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
That isn’t “telling it like it is.” That isn’t being politically incorrect. That is depraved, and conservatives should be even more upset with him than the left are. For better or worse, he represents us now, and we cannot accept this as the new normal.
There’s a big difference between being politically incorrect and just being a horrible person. Political incorrectness is about speaking tough truths to people that don’t want to hear them. A politically incorrect person would have said that an insecure border causes chaos in areas close to the border on both sides, and that 42 percent of all federal crimes filed in the U.S. in the 2013-14 fiscal year occurred in five districts in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California, according to a Department of Justice report. A horrible person flippantly throws incendiary buzz words at the problem to stir up resentment that they can take advantage of.
Being willing to speak tough truths is a crucial aspect of conservatism, meaning that blurring the lines between political incorrectness and poor character would be disastrous to the conservative cause.
While it is my hope that, in the future, the left will not throw the racism label at every conservative within yelling distance and reserve their claims of racism for actual racism, it is even more important that conservatives are able to admit where discrimination or unnecessarily hurtful words do exist on our side. If there is going to be any reconciliation between the two sides, it begins with conservatives acknowledging and condemning the blatant depravity of some of President-elect Trump’s comments.
Contact James Silberman at firstname.lastname@example.org