The Danger of Attacking a Candidate’s Supporters

In American Presidential elections, there are two candidates (realistically) in the final race. This election is no different. Politics is a dirty, brutal business, which is why very few good people are willing to enter the fray and even fewer manage to stay the course. Attacking the candidates, their beliefs, their life history, their relations with the opposite sex, and even their family is par for the course. That’s part of the reason they have Secret Service protection from the time their party nominates them until they either lose or die. For some, the vitriol is sufficient that they receive protection even before receiving their party nomination.

At times, their supporters are attacked as well. Some charges are leveled against both sides, most commonly that those we don’t agree with are ignoring obvious facts and can’t/won’t think logically. While those can be unpleasant and nasty, depending on how they are phrased, they aren’t really impugning anyone’s character nor do they make “the other side” (i.e., fellow Americans) into an enemy who must be defeated at all costs.

How This Election is Different

The level of vitriol leveled at the candidates is astounding. Hillary is a lying, cheating, political hack who attacks rape victims, laughs at a tween who was raped, is guilty of dereliction of duty (Benghazi) and has committed espionage by negligence (emails). Oh, and she is covering up massive health issues. The Donald is a lying, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic jerk who cheats small businesses and sexually assaults women.

I have friends from both sides of the aisle. The conservatives are not accusing liberals or progressives of personally being liars who support rapist and think blacks are “super predators” like Hillary does. Nor has the Donald lumped Hillary’s supporters into one “basket of deplorables” who are “irredeemable” and “not America”.

On the other side, I see posts and comments from liberal friends on a daily basis who call anyone who is voting for Trump a racist, bigot, misogynist, etc. These are attacks on a candidates SUPPORTERS. This is unacceptable and dangerous. The events of October 15 demonstrate this in stark terms.

October 15

In Bangor, Maine, twenty vehicles were vandalized at a Trump rally. Unknown vandals spray-painted white lines on the vehicles. The same night, someone threw a molotov cocktail through the window of a North Carolina Republican headquarters office. Luckily no one was injured this time, but just denouncing the NC attack isn’t enough. Hillary needs to stop attacking the character of anyone who opposes her and the Democratic National Committee needs to call out her behavior as unacceptable. 

These are not the first, nor are they the last, attacks that are directly against a candidate’s supporters in this election cycle. By denigrating Donald’s supporters, Hillary and her campaign are turning them into the enemy. An enemy is automatically someone it is acceptable to attack. Her words and her treatment of those who don’t support her is leading, directly, to violence against individuals, and to property damage and destruction. (Trump supporters have been attacked for wearing Trump hats and shirts.)

Not That Different

I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t. But I will be voting for him because there is no evidence (i.e, proof of any sort) of him doing anything worse than being a dick. Frankly, even if there was evidence of him being a rapist or sexual predator, Democrats have no room to criticize with the likes of Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, and JFK in their ranks, but that is a different issue. (Johnson apparently liked to be naked in front of, well, anyone and everyone.)

Other people are voting for Hillary because they see the attacks on her as being on irrelevant points or believe that she is genuinely not guilty. They believe Trump’s personality makes him unfit, and that’s their right. We need two parties with two different, and contrasting, points of view.

No one, in either party, wants America to become nation of misogynistic, racist xenophobes. We don’t, as a nation, want to go back to the days when being a member of the KKK was something anyone celebrated. Sure, a few wing-nuts may, but the opinions of a few wackadoodles doesn’t make their position mainstream or acceptable for either party. Unfortunately, having the media relentlessly parrot that position as commonplace and acceptable by a large group can accomplish that.

The more the main stream media and social media villify any group of Americans, the more that group can become a target. It’s one thing to call those at the far ends of the political spectrum libtards and wingnuts. Ultimately, while highly unflattering, neither name implies the group is a true danger to anyone else. Racist, misogynist, and any kind of “phobic” (homophobic, Islamaphobic, etc.) are labels for groups that want to remove or suppress other groups. Everyone I know is in agreement that we need to weed out these groups.

Until we can agree to stop use those kinds of labels for those who simply disagree with us, the probability is that these kind of incidents will happen more often.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • While I agree wholeheartedly that we should turn down the volume when discussing politics — and would go further and state that I simply don’t understand why people get so angry over politics — I am unclear, with the way your post is written, whether you believe the things you posts or whether you are providing examples of the way people interact with each other over politics.

    In addition, I would go a step further and say we need to stop blaming everything on “the media.” Freedom of the press is one of the founding tenets of our nation. Every time Mr. Trump’s campaign has gone off the rails, it’s been the fault of “the media,” according to him. “The media” is biased against him, conveniently forgetting that he received millions of dollars’ worth of free publicity by appearing on “the shows” before he decided he didn’t want to answer the hard questions anymore.

    In contrast, when people (as you do in your post) repeat accusations perpetuated by the alt-right as if they are gospel truth, that’s not healthy either.

    • LizLong

      I am providing examples of how people interact. My intent with this blog isn’t to try to convince anyone that either party (or candidate) is better than they other. (Both parties need replaced, IMHO.) I want people to stop and think and find more positive and productive ways to interact with those they do not agree with. We NEED at least two parties.

      The fourth estate (the media) is incredibly important for a free nation. Without the media to disseminate what is truly happening, it is far too easy for a small number of people to steer things the way they want them to go. It is now shackled because all our major news outlets are part of major entertainment conglomerates that are beholden to shareholders. That is a starkly different from being a straight-up source of news and information.

      What, specifically, were the “accusations perpetuated by the alt-right” in this post? The majority of it was regarding insults commonly hurled back and forth by both sides.

  • Intel Agent

    Liz, well written and thoughtful.

    As an “extreme moderate” and up until recently also undecided, I can wholeheartedly agree that attacking the supporters on either side is counter-productive and debases our society. For me, any argument that includes an insult, snarkiness or sarcasm really is A non-starter. Basically you’re self-disqualified. Which is the first reason I am surprised by your choice, as that is Trump’s general tact in any situation that he is given… With repeated chances to correct it.

    I also wanted to address your requirement for evidence. Most obviously was his change in stance about releasing his taxes. The very proof of his “tax genius”, as he puts it himself. The obvious other evidence was his own outright racism in the apartment leasing, assigning “C” for colored people in the written document. The other evidence is all his own words recorded to haunt him for the rest of his days. Inviting foreign espionage, discredited our democracy, repeatedly taking bait from an opponent and making really poor in-the-moment choices. These concerns among many others make me feel he is by far the least qualified presidential candidate of my lifetime.

    I completely understand the concerns folks have with the 2nd Amendment, which I completely support. And the perception that Washington is FUBAR, which we probably disagree on the severity of corruption. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of corruption. I probably also disagree with you about the media’s bias. I will tell you as someone who works directly with the PR office of a state governor, the media is ready to make news regardless of politics. At the highest levels, sure big money does come into play, but that’s where Brietbart, Drudge, InfoWars, etc. come in. Unfortunately, they pander far worse than the left, and have posted some fantastical articles that were debunked in hours just this month. Reasonable people should be dubious of all forms of mass media, and parse the facts for themselves. This just make all the water muddy IMO.

    I just don’t understand where in his history of accomplishments do you find the evidence he is worthy of your thoughtful vote?

    Thanks again for raising the bar on civil political discussion, and I hope to remain friends with all my Trump supporting friends after November 8th, when we can all go back to fighting over sports.

    • LizLong

      I heard a story from a friend who worked on a movie set for a major motion picture. The big-name director said anyone who didn’t vote for Obama needed to get off their set, and no one thought anything of it. It is well-understood that if you are a conservative in that industry, you need to keep it to yourself. It can definitely damage, or end, your career.

      The major news networks are owned by, or part of, entertainment companies. In that kind of atmosphere, do you honestly believe anyone will bring a story that is damaging to a Democrat unless they are absolutely, positively, beyond certain that it is true? Do you doubt they would bring one damaging to a Republican with significantly less proof, even just allegations? Unless you have lived in it, it is very difficult to understand how resistant people in the entertainment industry are to believing anything negative about Democrats, and how very willing they are to believe the worst of Republicans.

      As I said in my reply to the other comment on this page, my purpose with this blog isn’t to convince anyone to vote for a specific candidate so I won’t get into candidate specifics too much, but since I did say I will vote for Trump I will give a short reply. Most of what I find troubling about him amounts to mean words. What I find troubling about her is illegal and cruel actions, not just words. Do I like him as a candidate? No. Is he in my top 100 choices for POTUS? No. But I still prefer him to Hillary.