Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Preparation for a Talk about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Tomorrow I'm on a panel about the state of race in American politics. When it's my turn, I'll begin by showing them this tweet of Donald Trump calling Senator Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas."

Let that sink in a for a moment. We have a presidential candidate mocking a senator who, at times, has talked about her Native American heritage.

Being that this will probably go down as the Twitter election, I will show them another Trump tweet.

Trump spent much time and effort falsely claiming that Barack Obama is not an American citizen.  To Laura Ingraham, in 2011, he said: "He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me -- and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be -- that where it says 'religion,' it might have 'Muslim.' And if you're a Muslim, you don't change your religion, by the way."

I think any "outreach" he's done lately to African-Americans cannot be taken seriously given all he's done to discredit the first black president. As I've written before, he's already working to delegitimize Hillary Clinton's presidency even before the election is over.

Trump is in the news so much about so many things that many of his bizarre comments get overlooked. For example, at a rally last week Trump asked which crowd members aren't Christian conservatives and then "joked" by saying "I think we'll keep them, right? Should we keep 'em in the room? Yes. I think so." This statement by itself would be a major controversy and generate enormous coverage if any other candidate said it.

How about Trump's repeated claim that he saw people cheering when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11? In a November 2015 interview with George Stephanopoulos, he said: “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something." The Washington Post shows that Trump is lying about this.

I only have 7-10 minutes for my turn. It's hard to settle on what to choose and how to talk about the state of race in politics when Trump has ventured into so many controversial areas. How about when Trump called for a ban of Muslims entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on"?

I will point out Trump's constant references to "inner-cities" and how he supports stop and frisk policies, even though New York City's stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional. He speaks down to African-Americans, and on one occasion referred to a person as "my African-American."

All of Trump's shenanigans and attention-hogging has permitted, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton to avoid some media scrutiny. Voters deserve to have as much information as possible about candidates. There was a stretch of more than 200 days when she didn't have a formal press conference! Hillary has a record as a senator that voters can evaluate, and they can take into account the job she did as Secretary of State, but voters also should be able to hear her answer tough questions from the press on a regular basis. This has bothered me during her campaign. During the first debate with Trump, she directed viewers to her website--and yes, there is information about policy plans on the site--but a website offers voters different information than what we'd get from a back and forth with the press.

I sill want to see the transcripts of the speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs for a payment of $675,000. During a debate with Bernie Sanders, her answer to a question about those speeches understandably brought about boos from the crowd.

I'd like to hear more from Clinton about the access that Clinton Foundation donors had with her during her tenure as Secretary of State. This is, at least, an ethics challenge, as the Associated Press refers to it, if not actual corruption, as Ted Rall argues.

Hillary Clinton was on the Wal-Mart board of directors for six years (1986-1992). What is her view of a corporation that pays low-wages to its workers--so low that workers need government aid for food and healthcare. Economic justice and racial justice are intertwined. I am not confident that Hillary Clinton will remedy economic and racial inequalities. What say you, candidate Clinton?

I look at both Clinton and Trump as flawed and problematic candidates, but I view Trump as the one who has whipped up prejudice, hate, and fear. I happen to think Trump will lose. But he won't go away after losing, and all that he has wrought during his campaign will be with us for a long time to come.

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