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Thursday, January 17, 2019

A black man was elected president, and white people lost their minds.

Not all of them, no. Not even most of them. But not a piddling few, either.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of America’s hateful and obstructionist politics over the last eight years — and of the nasty, arduous excuse for a presidential campaign that finally ends on Tuesday. Granted, many pundits have chosen to explain those things in terms of “economic anxiety,” the fiscal insecurity of the undereducated white working class. But here on election eve can we, for once, be honest with ourselves about ourselves?

Not to say that sluggish economic growth isn’t a valid concern. But that world where men like Archie Bunker could, with a high school education or less, find factory work that would allow them to buy a house and raise a family, did not suddenly disappear when the black guy took over at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It’s been gone for quite awhile.

And the white guy who preceded the black guy spent a $128 billion surplus into an over $400 billion deficit, presided over a cratering stock market and anemic job creation. Yet for all the grief he was given, nobody ever called him a “subhuman mongrel.”

Lawmakers from the other party did not declare their refusal to work with him on even the most routine matters of governance.

People did not take to showing up at his events carrying rifles. Nobody shouted, “I want my country back!”

So as much as or more than it is a referendum on the economy — or foreign policy, or terrorism — this election is a referendum on demographic change. A nation that elected a black guy president and enshrined the right of same sex marriage into law, a nation where Muslims, transgender people and Spanish speakers are more visible and rising higher than ever before, will now tell us how it feels about all that, whether it is ready to plunge ahead into the unknowable future or whether it will seek refuge in a sepia-toned past that never was.

The Republican Party’s preference is no mystery. To succeed the first black president, it put forth a racist enthusiastically supported by the Ku Klux Klan. To oppose the first woman to be a major party candidate, it offered a misogynist trailing accusations of sexual assault. “Make America great again,” indeed.

Every four years, pundits solemnly intone the same cliche: “This is an important election.” Fact is, they’re all important elections. Choosing a leader for the economic and military giant of the planet is by definition consequential.

That said, this country finds itself facing an electoral decision starker and more portentous than any in modern memory. We don’t just choose new policies on Tuesday, or even a new vision. No, we choose identity. We decide who and what we are.

Are we a backward-looking nation defined by those who lost their minds because a black guy was elected president? Or are we a forward facing people, challenged by change but never shying from it, never so terrified by it as to betray our fundamental selves?

The thing is, change doesn’t care what we decide. It comes regardless, and you can no more question it than you can gravity. The toothpaste won’t go back into the tube, the gay people back into the closet, the women back into the kitchen nor the African Americans back to the rear of the bus.

The past will not be restored. So the only question here is how we will respond to the future. With fear or faith? With cowardice or courage?

It’s time for us all to take a deep breath.

And decide.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

IMAGE: U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump  (R) speak at campaign rallies in Westbury, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016 and Toledo, Ohio, U.S. September 21, 2016 in a combination of file photos.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Jonathan Ernst/Files 
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99 responses to “An Election That Defines Who And What We Are”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    You are right Leonard, this election says more about who we are, and what our values and goals are, than what previous elections have said about us.
    The fact that this presidential campaign has been focused on character, rather than substantive and relevant socio-economic and foreign policy issues, says it all. The difference this time is between a woman who, while as imperfect as most of us are, has tried to make a difference, is well qualified, has relevant experience, and the temperament to lead and do a good job from day one; and a man who brags about his despicable behavior, takes pride in being unpredictable, and does not hesitate to lash out against anyone who dares question his alleged wisdom, questionable achievements, narcissism, arrogance, irresponsibility, vulgarity, and immaturity.
    That so many find the personal flaws of Donald Trump acceptable says more about who we are as a society, than about Trump himself.
    Lost in all the political rhetoric, hyperbole, lies, and deliberate distortions is the absence of relevant issues, policy proposals to help us overcome the challenges we face, and a vision of what is best for us as a country and leaders of the free world.

    I listened yesterday to a rare exception to what has prevailed during the past year, during Hillary’s speech in Cleveland. She spoke eloquently and clearly about the changes she plans to promote, how she is planning to overcome the obstructionism that she is likely to face, as well as a vision filled with optimism and hope that contrasts with the doom and gloom articulated by her opponent. Vote!!!

    • TZToronto says:

      Yes, Dominick, we are voting tomorrow (or before) not based on what the candidates and their respective parties will bring to governance but rather on the personalities and attitudes, real or perceived, of the candidates. In truth, we really have no clear idea of what Trump would attempt to do as President of the United States because he’s spent most of his time campaigning on what’s wrong with America and not on what he would do to fix it. Oh, there’s that un-buildable wall, of course, and that deportation force made up of, I suppose, concerned citizens who will do their duty without pay since actually hiring people to do the job would cost billions of dollars that Congress would not provide in any case. There are policies found on Trump’s campaign website, but he tends to contradict those policies at every opportunity. Hillary Clinton has numerous policies detailed on her campaign website, but she has had to take pains to counter the misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and simple stupidity of her opponent rather than consistently outline what she plans to do for America. Malcolm Gladwell on CBC last night predicted more Congressional obstructionism should Clinton be elected, not to mention continuous investigations to attempt to impeach her. Interestingly, Gladwell suggested that within a year Donald Trump would be criminally charged after losing the election, although he did not provide details of what those charges would be; and he said that ex-candidate Trump would be in jail within a year.

      So few Americans are really clear about what the next four years will look like after the election of either Clinton or Trump. Suffice it to say, though, that it’s going to be nasty regardless of which candidate gets elected.

      • plc97477 says:

        If the dems can make inroads in the house and senate, we can lessen some of the nastiness. I hope we can do that so we can actually get something done in the country.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          I hope so, but I think our chances of getting control of the House are slim to none. In addition to gerrymandering, most Democrats live in large urban areas. Republicans, on the other hand, dominate much of the country, since many of them tend to live in rural areas. I think we have a chance to get the Senate, but I am not holding my breath on the House.

          • plc97477 says:

            I am not going to hold my breath either but I am hoping they lose enough in the house that the next time they’ll listen to their autopsy instead of completely blow it off.

  2. Mama Bear says:

    What I have learned over the past year, sadly, is that ignorant desires to remain that way. Bigots, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes will cling desperately to the idea that hating others somehow elevates their own sad ignorant selves. My mother used to tell me a story she called “the rock creatures” which described a small creature that clung to the rocks at the bottom of a swift moving river. They were generation after generation afraid to simply let go and find out where the river would take them. One brave little rock clinger said “I will die of boredom if I do not let go” and he did while the rest just scoffed at his foolishness and continued to cling to the rocks until they died. This is how I think of ignorance.

  3. Trump has been the necessary tumor to show us what lay deep beneath the surface, and like a cancer we suspect but want to wish away, we ignore it and let it fester. And fester it has been doing since the days of slavery and forced removal of Native Americans from their lands.
    Then, and now, we felt it expedient to remove those “undesirables”(a term used by the eugenecists here in America) or Native Americans, because they stood in the way of the tragic theme of “Manifest Destiny”. Blacks were OK to enslave because they didn’t fit the mold of “well-born”—the translation of the Greek word “eugenics” which Galton adopted to fit his perception of why humans appeared different, and showed different talents. His goal and ideology which was first formally put into practice in Indiana, was implemented to remove those not “well-born” and/or “undesirable”.
    The proponents in America would craft a neatly delineated list comprised of the following:

    1) Poor People who were unable to get work(because eugenics proponents thought it was the Will of God that they were poor and therefore were a drain on society).
    2) Black people
    3) Native Americans
    4) Women who had the misfortune of turning to prostitution because of dire times
    5) Beggars who had to beg because they had physical defects
    6) Indigent children
    7) Those unfortunate to be born as epileptics, or developed epilepsy as a result
    head trauma.

    This is a partial list, but one that the political Establishment, certain scientists, clergymen, lawyers and doctors approved of in order to make society great and to save money in the process. Forced sterilizations and banishment to colonies were suggested by many religious leaders of the time and recommended to legislators, along with initiatives from “quack” scientists who bought into this myth that “degeneracy” was an inherited quality—a conclusion based on earlier studies in Europe by those who studied animals and plants, noting that certain qualities could be control by selective breeding.

    All of these trends and thoughts are woven into the thoughts of many Americans today—particularly among conservatives who desire to improve society by controlling the “degenerates” by denial of services, uneven application of justice, proposing sanitized versions of racialism, benignly neglecting the welfare and well-being of those children unfortunate to have been born to single moms in urban areas, enduring poverty and malnourishment which cause irreparable damage to emotional and mental development, the persistence in degrading women, and thinking of humans as being fundamentally different from each other and expressing that with stereotypes like “typical black”, or “rapist Mexicans”.

    And Trump is the caustic agent that allowed these demons that lay hidden to burst forth, and now we’re paying for it as never before. The ghosts of racialism, misogyny, excessive greed, and narcissism, have been allowed to assert themselves after a brief hiatus. And tumorous agents like AgLanders, InformedVoters, Boxes, James Samaras, and others are quite active in allowing these cancerous agents to gain more traction in America. Their work makes America sick and depraved, and can never lead to Greatness.

    Yes, long before Obama became President the breakdown of America and shipping jobs overseas to be performed cheaply by the Donald Trumps of corporate America was well underway by the 80’s. Some people just rely on scapegoats to allay their angst and worries, and women, blacks, poor whites, hispanics and other “degenerates” serve the role of scapegoats quite conveniently by those who don’t want to adapt to a diverse society. Monotone societies, like a limited gene pool or an immune system lacking diverse capabilities, are weak and destined to fail when conditions change and require adjustments.

    • Mama Bear says:

      Thank you, Aaron. Even though I am now extremely depressed (half kidding) your analysis is something that we all need to dwell on for a while.

      • Just trying to stay in control given the madness that has gripped America and the rest of the world. I find it helpful to relieve stress by reflecting and writing about some of the root causes of our collective illness.
        Which is why some of us here in our community are moving forward in creating an online newsletter to invite people to join the core group we already have in order to invite like-minded people to converse frankly and in an atmosphere free of partisan discussion and rancor, with adult sensibilities.

    • idamag says:

      A man knocked another man to the sidewalk and stood on his head. An onlooker asked, “Why did you knock that man down and stand on his head?” The deplorable answered, “Because it makes me taller.”

    • Dominick Vila says:

      Thank you!

    • Jon says:

      This American version of Hitler’s Aryan Nation has its perfect Glorious Leader in Donald J Trump. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a video of an interview of Trump in which he talks about having superior genes. If you want to be repulsed, watching it will do it.

      • I’m repulsed just thinking about what the video will be like once I watch it. Trump is an abnormality that is both repulsive and morbidly fascinating. Were I in a university setting now, I would choose to do a thesis about Trump—there’s so much material to work with, provided you hold your nose and have a strong stomach.

  4. AgLander says:

    It’s pretty simple. Hillary Clinton is pure evil. If the nation elects her, I guess that means the nation is evil too.

    • chino49p says:

      Well, we know you are evil by the disgusting bile you post and you are not voting for Clinton, so that means you are one of the evil deplorables. The nation is not as overall evil as you drump-bots are overall.

      • AgLander says:

        You are correct…..I didn’t vote for Clinton, but a LOT of people joined me in not voting for her. President TRUMP!!

    • I Am Helpy says:

      TERRIFIED of women. It must be so weird, being such a coward.

      • RightThinkingOne says:

        Puerile. If one did not vote for Obama, he was labeled a racist by people like you. Now, if he does not vote for Hillary, he is a sexist.

        • CrankyToo says:

          That’s an absurd assertion.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Yes. It is absurd for those who those who do not vote for Hillary do so because she is a woman. Quite absurd. And very petulant and childish.

          • CrankyToo says:

            You and I have something in common – neither one of us knows what the hell you’re talking about.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Why do you post without even reading what has been put up? I responded to the poster who wrote “TERRIFIED of women” in response to someone criticizing Hillary.

            Next time, try to keep up. Thanks!

          • CrankyToo says:

            Listen up, Numbnutz…

            You wrote, “It is absurd for those who those who do not vote for Hillary do so because she is a woman.”

            Are you trying to tell us that that sentence makes sense to you?

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Thank you. My error in sentence construction. I will clarify: It is absurd for anyone to claim that those who do not vote for Hillary do so (do not vote for her) because she is a woman.

            Thank you for the clarification. I hope that you will now be able to carry on a dispassionate and coherent and mature exchange.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “You have to take my dull bigotry seriously for some reason”.

            No we don’t. You are garbage and you support fascism.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            And you did it again.

            I am not surprised.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous post.

          • CrankyToo says:

            You’re welcome. I regret however that I cannot “carry on a dispassionate and coherent and mature exchange” with you any longer. I don’t mind doing your proof-reading for you, but even after editing, you’re positions are not sufficiently enlightened to engage my interest further. Good night.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            but what will you do without his hot takes about how woman are only voting with their vaginas and liberals are the Real Racists (against white people).

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            I see: Someone claims that Trump is for “ethnic and religious cleansing” (implying, of course, that he wants to “eliminate” certain groups), and – on top of that – claims it is on Trump’s website, and you think that it is unreasonable to show such a statement on that website?

            Apparently, you are of the opinion that anyone can make any outrageous claim, as long as it aligns with your political and ideological position. And if anyone dares to ask for any kind of “proof” to something incredibly outrageous, you think that insulting and labeling are appropriate responses.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “IF I PRETEND HARD ENOUGH OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TO START BELIEVING MY FALSE NARRATIVE”.

            Your racist candidate STARTED HIS CAMPAIGN BY CALLING MEXICANS RAPISTS. He wants to exile US citizens if their parents weren’t citizens, despite the Constitution,

            I hope that helps! Sorry you are so deluded that you think you can convince people you’re not misogynist & racist garbage, especially since you couldn’t help but complain that women were voting with their vaginas!

          • I Am Helpy says:

            The grossest thing you bigots do is assert that people vote for Hillary Clinton “because she is a woman”. It’s exactly as dumb as when you insisted people only voted for Obama because he’s black, and it illustrates the underlying motivation that you have: you’re voting for Trump because he’s white and male.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            You are dishonest. It is *I* who directs posts specifically to YOU. Show me where I said that {people vote for Hillary Clinton “because she is a woman”}. Show me.

            And do you agree or disagree that Clinton has made the appeal of “getting a woman into the White House” or not? Can you stay on topic and answer clearly?

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK sorry you think I’m interested in the dumb lies you tell yourself. I can’t imagine why?

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            So, you deny that Hillary has encouraged people to vote for her to “get a woman into the White House.”

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK sorry you’re functionally illiterate, KKKomrade.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            You did it yet again!

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Oh no! I can’t believe I keep insulting a drooling racist moron! What is up with that?!?

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            And again: I refer to Rule of Law, the Second Amendment and other concepts, and you respond with…..

            I asked specific questions, and what do you write in response? Everyone reading here knows……

          • I Am Helpy says:

            I can’t believe everyone here knows I don’t care what your dumb opinion is! My secret is out!

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            And you did it again.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Oh no oh no! Now everyone knows that I don’t like racists!

            what a calamity

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            This is enough. I have asked you questions, pointed questions, and you never answer. I have mentioned Rule of Law and the 2nd Amendment, and you choose not to have any mature discussion about those topics.

            If I do not respond to your future “posts” to me, it is because I tried to prod you into some kind of reasoned discussion, and it does not seem possible to elicit any from you.

            If you change your mind, I will be glad to have an exchange. Otherwise, I choose not to lower myself to this codswallop any more.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK sorry I didn’t take your strawmen, smears, outright lies, and conspiracy theories seriously enough. I can’t think why.

            Better luck next racist vanity candidate!

        • I Am Helpy says:

          Yeah sorry you have to assemble a weird strawman to argue with. Never said everyone who was voting for Trump was sexist and racist – probably only 98-99% of them are, a figure which I can guarantee includes you. That’s off-topic, however: AgLander is genuinely and undeniably terrified of women, and his every snivelling word betrays that.

          I hope that helps!

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Interesting how you parrot what you are supposed to say, and how you contradict yourself.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Yes those two irrelevant claims sure to do prove something or other, in your mind. Sorry you’re mad about being called a racist; maybe try not supporting a racist campaign if that’s an issue for you.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            You are dishonest. (98-99%)

            You are spouting mindless codswallop with the name-calling, the branding. It is reflexive: Scream “racist!” and “sexist!” It requires no thought or reflection. With your method, one does not have to understand criteria for nominating a justice, for example. No. Just scream “racist” or “sexist.”

            Mindlessness.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous post. Again, sorry you’re mad at being correctly labelled.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            No, it is mindless in the sense that it is effortless. It is a tactic to label and name-call. It requires no understanding of issues, no insight, no thought.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Your candidate is LITERALLY CALLING FOR ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CLEANSING, you goddam cretin.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Not true. I suggest you turn off your television. Simply not true! Your very statement shows you have not thought anything through.

            It is unfortunate. Please don’t vote.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Hmmm ok sorry you’re a dumb bigot who thinks they can change documented facts just by insisting they aren’t true. It’s kind of a running theme with Trump supporters.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            It is quite puerile to claim that Donald J. Trump wants “ethnic and religious cleansing.” It is childish.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            On his website, RIGHT NOW, are his plans to deport all the Muslims and Mexicans (even the ones who are citizens via the 19th Amendment).

            You are a moron.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Not true. Deport illegals. And not just Mexicans. All illegals, of course.

            If that is not true, then show me.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            I’m sorry that you think I’m invested enough in your idiocy to care to correct it. Why on Earth would you think that?

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            You claim that it is on his website, and now you make an excuse not to show it. I am very familiar with his website. You are a liar.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous post.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            ^ I called it!

      • AgLander says:

        Why would I be afraid of a loser who loses a landslide election!!

    • It’s pretty simple that you have no rational foundation and your centers of adult reasoning are burned out from too much infatuation with yourself. You can’t notice this because you’re too close to the damage, so take our advice who have a better view from an objective vantage point of the destruction happening to you. It’s a “bigly” and tragic sight—BELIEVE ME!
      (Burn any churches lately?)

      • idamag says:

        According to a Time profile, these trolls that are ruining the internet with their hate, are not well educated, full of anger and hate, and scared. Therefore: they are brave behind the skirts of anonymity. They haven’t got enough sense to exchange ideas with so I consider them a waste of intelligent of intelligent people, like you and others’ time. Our country would be more civilized without them.

        • AgLander says:

          You are projecting…..a sure sign of mental illness.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            I looked at the responses to your clear and cogent statement, and it is sign of what the people have become under Modern Liberalism: You give your opinion, and instead of reasoned responses you are accused of being “infatuated with yourself,” a “troll,” a “burner of churches,” “hateful,” “not educated,” “scared,” and “filled with anger and hate.”

            Their response to you in itself shows how irrational and intolerant they have become. THOSE are the people who will elect Hillary.

          • CrankyToo says:

            You finally said something accurate. Hillary will be elected.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Yes, probably so. It is sad for our nation.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            As long as you define (and you do) “our nation” as “uneducated white males”, sure.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “Just because we’re racist whiny manbabies who hate women, people don’t like us!!!1”

            You are garbage. And you gonna lose.

    • RightThinkingOne says:

      I disagree. If the nation elects her, it shows our slide into weakness and dependency on government. It demonstrates how disconnected we are from our very founding principles, and our nation cannot endure without that to unify us. Her winning would show how the sense of “America” is mostly lost, and all that remains are disparate groups, groping and scrambling for whatever the Central Authority can squeeze from people who work.

  5. idamag says:

    I have been saying all along, Trump is who they are. The Grand Old Party has been degraded by fascists.

  6. CrankyToo says:

    Another brilliant article by the erudite Mr. Pitts…

    I would only add to his remark, “Choosing a leader for the economic and military giant of the planet is by definition consequential.”

    As prescient as that statement is, it ignores our third instrument of power – diplomacy. We’re a diplomatic giant, too, and President Obama (and Hillary Clinton) have done much to rehabilitate our reputation around the world following the disastrous misadventures of Dubya and his merry band of marauding morons. A Trump administration will undo the great progress we’ve made in the diplomatic arena over the past eight years.

  7. Jon says:

    Trump’s campaign has done enough damage to America. He incites and encourages violence at his rallies. He calls for Hillary’s assassination. He calls for Hillary to be imprisoned without any finding of guilt. His campaign sells the most vulgar shirts and caps ever seen in a political campaign many advocating violence and fascism. This is who Trump and his supporters are but not the majority of Americans.

    • RightThinkingOne says:

      He never called for any assassination, of course. His position on criteria used to nominate justices is flawless and Hillary’s is against Rule of Law. Donald J. Trump’s position paper on our Second Amendment is also without flaw; Hillary praised the method of gun confiscation in Australia. Hillary wants to centralize education, and Donald J. Trump wants more local control. Hillary’s plan for Universal Health Care when her husband was president failed, but it shows what she would do if she could. Donald J. Trump will open the market plus more.

      And on and on.

      • Jon says:

        Bad spin on his 1st call for assassination troll. You are spewing lie after lie. Go back to your Red Flag, Breitbart, Stormfront, and Fox news. You can’t handle the truth.

        • RightThinkingOne says:

          Absurd. It was merely an appeal to Real Americans who would preserve the Second Amendment. It was a reminder of how Hillary would fight to INCREMENTALLY restrict gun ownership.

          • Jon says:

            How’s the weather in Moscow troll?

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Interesting how you did not (probably can not) respond to a single one of the points I made above. It is easiest to just insult and name-call. Typical of the Left.

          • Jon says:

            Life is too short to waste on trolls like you comrade.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Another excuse not to think.

          • Jon says:

            Whatever comrade. I’m sick of you Putin sucking trolls wasting my time.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            Another excuse not to think.

            I refer to 1) Rule of Law, and 2) the 2nd Amendment.

            Your rejoinders: Insulting and labeling.

          • Jon says:

            Yeah because that’s what I think about you scum sucking Putin boys.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Yes it was merely an appeal to White Americans.

          • RightThinkingOne says:

            That is a very racist statement. Non-white people own guns, and they should. But you think that only whites want to keep a strong 2nd Amendment. That is about as racist as it gets.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “You’re the REAL racist!”
            This is the endless complaint of the bigot, and it has literally never worked.

            For a bunch of people always whining about political correctness, you sure are thin-skinned diaper babies.

      • I Am Helpy says:

        OK thanks for explaining how Hillary is breaking the laws you made up

        • RightThinkingOne says:

          Why don’t you actually READ what is posted?

          I never said “breaking the law.” Read what I wrote: Her criteria are against RULE OF LAW.

          Explain? No. I will discuss. And with discussion, both parties have to have an understanding of the specific topic. Now: Do you know what each candidate’s criteria are for nominating a justice? Do you?

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