As a purveyor of all things political, I live for presidential campaigns. While some of my fellow swing-state residents run for bomb shelters as campaign signs dot front lawns and television sets sing of fiscal reform and social issues, I sprint towards the insanity without looking back. I have lived through 5 presidential campaigns and loved every one of them, although admittedly I wasn’t thinking of myself as a political actor until Obama’s first race, where I found myself full of civic hope and enthusiasm for the first time.
As I find myself living in the midst this presidential race, which seems like of one of the strangest, most candidate-laden presidential races of all time, I feel different. My hopeful heart, thus far, has been swapped with a sense of disappointment at the ideological right’s commitment to blatant intolerance and discrimination, and their ability to remain visionless behind their biblical blinders when presented with legal reason. The candidates of ages past, at least how I remember it, met ideological differences with some semblance of reason and legality. Since when is bigotry something to celebrate? Apparently, in the current Republican state of affairs.
Let me be clear; my criticism is not a direct attack on the fundamental principles of the Republican Party, nor do I think conservatism and bigotry is a causal relationship. In fact, I would argue that many moderate Republicans are as frustrated as I am with the seemingly endless instances of narrow-mindedness. However, I believe the GOP of today is a far cry from the praise-worthy ideals of thinkers like Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gerald Ford. Those men, regardless of your politics, did not lay their entire political foundation on the assumption that all Mexican immigrants are sexually predatory, the hatred of an entire religion, the inferiority of women or the misinterpretation of Genesis 19. Unfortunately for the peaceful afterlife of the Republicans of antiquity, the conservative presidential hopefuls believe these things and much worse, as if to prompt every former respectable GOP leader to turn in their grave in unison.
Donald Trump, who has to the Old Guard’s dismay been leading the GOP polls since his announcement, is arguably the king of political hate speech. I sat in horror as he stated, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” I became even more disgusted as Americans rallied around a fundamentally incorrect assumption of an entire group of people, when in fact, studies have shown that some our nation’s safest cities are those that have large immigrant populations. As Trump broadened his hateful scope to include the likes of women, prisoners of war and Islamic populations, I patiently waited for the conservative electorate to say “enough is enough.” Oddly, they haven’t yet.
While it’s easy to solely target Trump, Ben Carson has made questionable claims about his inability to trust Muslim people, stating: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” Additionally, Carson believes Muslim values are not consistent with that of the United States Constitution. Here, we return to the inability to reason due to their supposed religious foundations. Let me remind Carson of the very First Amendment of the Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So don’t fret Carson, no Islamic president could ever declare a national religion as Christians have been doing unofficially for years. Your stalwart freedom to be misinformed in terms of theology and rudimentary civics persists, brave heart.
Although I have highlighted only two pervasive examples, the instances persist. Chris Christie compared immigrants to UPS packages, saying we should track them in a way we do objects. Carly Fiorina casts democrats as baby-killers and amoral. Kasich declared teachers to be gossipy, stating that their lounges should be taken away. Ultimately, I’m disappointed with our discourse. Our conservative presidential hopefuls do not sound like ivy league scholars, but disgruntled college freshman in speech class. Republican Party, I mourn the loss of your validity.