Imagine racial insensitivity in the White House after 2020 and beyond. It is likely, assuming one of this moment’s top three candidates wins.
Barbaric populations enslave, torture and kill individuals on a basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and more. We see it around the globe. Civilized countries work hard to avoid critically judging and punishing people for immutable traits.
If that were not true, people in the United States would not be on the defensive when called out for racist, potentially racist and even slightly insensitive comments involving ethnicity, nationality, religion or race. If the American people generally approved of racists and bigots, they would tell ethnic jokes in the workplace without fear of social and professional reprisal.
Because mainstream culture frowns on irrational prejudice, race has become a central theme in campaigns for the White House.
The country seldom sees a week go by that President Donald Trump fails to scandalize the public with statements that sound racist and violate norms. Telling four minority women in Congress to go back where they came from simply crosses a line, given that all four are U.S. citizens and three were born here.
Clumsily associating illegal Mexican immigrants with rapists and murderers sounds racist, especially to Trump’s opponents who have no reason to extend him benefit of the doubt.
Trump proclaiming an American judge might treat him unfairly, because of the judge’s Mexican lineage, conveys ethnic bigotry.
We can go on with fair examples exuding presidential prejudice. Americans will dispute what he really means and how he really feels, basing opinions on their love or hatred of Trump.
Here’s why we could see more of the same if Trump loses in 2020.
Former Vice President Joe Biden leads his party’s 20-person pack of credible candidates with a nine-to 10-point edge over the next contender. The New York Times and other media featured a big story Friday about Biden’s latest racial gaffe.
“Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” Biden said Thursday during an Iowa campaign stop.
The Times’ news article said “the verbal slip-up by Mr. Biden, 76, comes as his record on race has become a central focus of the early months of the Democratic primary.”
Biden’s condescending comment Thursday suggests he has a low opinion of minorities and a high opinion of whites. By conflating economic status with race, he wrongly implies minorities are impoverished and whites succeed.
In truth, at least 10% of white children in the United States live below the federal poverty line. Most impoverished American children are white. Although minority children suffer higher poverty rates, the discrepancy is narrowing. In 2017, racial and ethnic minority children — kids the left calls “black” and “brown” — outnumbered white children for the first time in history. Someone tell Biden they are not all poor.
One could excuse Biden’s comment as a meaningless mistake, had it occurred in isolation. The statement reminds us of another Biden comment that revealed his low view of black Americans. Back in 2007, the New York Observer asked Biden his opinion of candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Of Barack Obama, he said:
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
It is not storybook. It is common to encounter a “guy” who is articulate, bright, clean, nice-looking — we will add “successful” — and also black.
Combine Biden’s statements and we sense a man who considers it novel for minorities to hold their own among whites in academics, economics, language and good looks.
In another statement revealing his view of black Americans, Biden implied they might become slaves again if not for Democratic politicians winning elections and saving them. As explained by the fact-checking site Snopes, Biden addressed a crowd that included “many African-Americans” at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Va., in 2012.
“Romney wants to let the — he said in the first hundred days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchaaaaaain Wall Street,” Biden said with a pretentious ethnic dialect. “They gonna to put y’all back in chains.”
As Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris pointed out in a recent debate, Biden opposed school integration of blacks and whites. He recently highlighted his past ability to work well with segregationist senators.
Should Biden lose his strong lead among the Democratic field, make room for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She consistently finishes second to Biden in the polls.
Warren, who is white, spent much of her adult life presenting herself as an American Indian. She checked “American Indian” and “Native American” on applications for employment and admittance to the Texas Bar Association. She allowed media to call her a “woman of color.” As explained by The Washington Post, tribal leaders finally expressed frustration with Warren over “the seizure of cultural and social ties for political maneuvering.”
Few 21st-century Americans see this much racially incendiary rhetoric and behavior among their friends, neighbors and colleagues. Yet, it may be oddly endemic to the White House for years in the future — no matter which party wins.