The deplorables are making a mess of this election
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According to a recent poll, 70 percent of voters believe that this year’s presidential election is bringing out the worst in their fellow Americans — and who can blame them? In many respects, this election has devolved into a pitched battle between a “deplorable” candidate and a “despicable” one.

Of course, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDNC warns campaigns about cybersecurity after attempted scam Biden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Stone judge under pressure over calls for new trial MORE deserves credit for starting the "deplorable" candidate trope. She made headlines in early September for calling out Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE as the ringleader of a merry band of racist, misogynist, anti-semitic "deplorables." It’s worth noting, however, that she is not considered all that much better in the minds of many voters, most of whom have not forgotten her long history of perceived corruption and out-of- touch elitism while watching her dodge scandal-after-scandal over the past year. And, her base made up of liberal sycophants aren’t doing much to help the cause.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump has certainly given a voice to the absolute worst in our society.

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Since announcing his candidacy last June, Trump has made a habit of hurling opprobrious racist, misogynistic, xenophobic remarks at every stop along the campaign trail. Most obviously, he uses the definitive article when referring to any minority group — “the Hispanics” “the Muslims,” “the Blacks.” However, he often goes a step further than simply treating minorities as monolithic entities. Trump ruthlessly denigrates them, all while scoring cheap points with his basket of deplorable supporters.

He is a man who characterized all Mexican immigrants to the United States as rapists and murderers.

He is a man who called for a complete and total ban on all Muslims seeking to enter the country, not-so-subtly implying that no member of that entire faith could be trusted.

He is a man who has spent the past few weeks at rallies — almost exclusively attended by white people, by the way — asking the African-American community what it “has to lose” by voting a candidate who talks about race like a character straight out of 1956, rather than 2016.

Given this track record, it’s no surprise that true deplorables like David Duke are enthusiastic passengers on the Trump Train.

Duke, a former KKK leader and all-around alt-right nutjob, is running for the United States Senate here in Louisiana. He has worked hard over the past few months to attach himself to Trump in any way possible, especially on Twitter where his neo-Nazi ilk seem to thrive. For its part, Trump’s campaign has sought to distance itself from Duke, even though the candidate himself sidestepped multiple opportunities to disavow the former Grand Dragon and his white supremacist ideology.

Yet, the similarities between Trump and Duke are undeniable.

Last week, USA Today’s editorial board waded into the pool of presidential endorsements for the first time ever. Though it stopped short of endorsing Hillary Clinton, the paper urged voters to choose someone other than Trump. You’d have to go all the way back to 1991 to find a similar “disendorsement,” when the same editorial board implored Louisiana voters to reject David Duke in a high-profile governor’s race that captured the nation’s attention.

I remember 1991 well. In my 41 years in Louisiana politics, it stands as one of my proudest moments — being a part of the campaign that defeated David Duke and saved my state from the disgrace that would have been the former KKK leader in the Governor’s Mansion. Now, 25 years later, I’m seeing an upsurge in the same candidate-fueled bigotry that I saw back then.

I am certainly not saying that all Republicans and all Trump supporters are in bed with David Duke and deplorables like him. I am saying, however, that we need to take a long, hard look at the type of people that are inspired by Trump’s candidacy and ask ourselves whether that who we want making decisions in the Republican Party for the next four to eight years.

No matter what, America is stuck between a rock and a hard place in this election — or, more appropriately, a deplorable candidate and a despicable one.

Bergeron is a 40-year veteran of Louisiana politics and currently works as a political strategist and communications consultant.


 

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