Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” statement continues to disturb me. One of my first thoughts was that she was essentially calling half of American’s deplorable, and if she became elected she would be their president too. I don’t think she thought about that at all, or worse, she doesn’t think those people are worth representing.
The phrase itself, though seemed to mean something more. It sounded sinister and somehow familiar.
The characteristics she attributed to the deplorable ones was itself a basket of terms that have, in my lifetime, morphed from describing someone who exhibits disdain for specific groups of people into labeling disagreement with certain policies and agendas as hateful, and the same as disdaining the group. And so, Hillary attempted to delegitimize Trump by assigning hateful motives to his supporters. By her definition, although I am not a Trump supporter, I am included in her dreadful basket.
Another way to discredit people is to dehumanize them. Tossing people into baskets is not respectful. It expresses disinterest and dishonor, to say nothing of hubris. This thought brought to focus my discomfort with the phrase. Dehumanizing people for political gain has happened on a large scale before. Hitler. He called those people “undesirables.” As Hitler’s power grew he gained control over public information, persecuted the Church, and criminalized all dissent. His government intruded into all aspects of life, including the naming of children. Does any of this sound familiar?
This isn’t going to end well for us either, unless we change course. Fortunately we have a framework to help us attain liberty and justice for all. We need to protect it and adhere to it. We need to think about first things. We need to encourage discussion and welcome dissent. We need to respect every person. We need to be humble. This is not easy. God help us.