OPINION BY ABIGAIL GRIMMINGER
Recently, support for Donald Trump has gone down (he’s currently at a favorability rating of 41 percent according to a Quinnipiac University poll) and that’s partly because of his big mouth.
In the same poll, 59 percent of respondents stated that Trump’s rhetoric appealed to bigotry, but he once had enough people on his side to become the presidential nominee, inflammatory rhetoric and all. That’s got to say something about our nation.
That’s got to say something about our nation.
Politico.com reported that, in September of last year, Trump held a rally in Dallas that was heckled by a group of protesters. One of the protesters asked all of the racists present to raise their hands, and one Trump supporter did just that before walking to the microphone and stating, in Spanish and then in English, “The Mexicans are the hairs of a–holes,” adding to one protester, “Clean my hotel room, b—-.”
At other rallies, the altercations have gone beyond insults. Last November, CNN reported that a black protester had been shoved to the ground at an Alabama rally for refusing to leave the event.
While on the ground, he was kicked and punched.
The violence has gone beyond political events. A year ago in Boston, two men beat up and urinated on a homeless Latino man while making comments like, “Donald Trump was right” and “All these illegals need to be deported,” according to CNN.
Trump has gone back and forth on encouraging the violence.
That incident in Boston? No, he “would never condone violence.”
But that Alabama beating? Sure, maybe the guy “should have been roughed up” a bit. His stance on political correctness has remained a constant. Trump doesn’t care who he insults, and he seems to believe this is a sign of his strength, and some appear to agree with him.
All of this conflict connected to Trump makes it seem pretty clear that he has enflamed the divisions in our country. Ironically, it is the violence that his rhetoric has helped incite that proves how powerful words can be. Our leaders especially need to be careful about what they say.
Throughout his political campaign, he has played on the conflicts in our country, claiming that President Obama was born in Kenya, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, and gaining the support of white supremacists.
Our nation doesn’t need a leader that would rather blind us with hate than open our eyes to new viewpoints and ideas.
However, it’s important to remember that Trump is merely using the conflicts that were already present in our nation. Regardless of whether or not he is elected president, the divisions in our country will persist. They’re going to remain until we get better at participating in national conversations about important and complicated issues.
At the first Republican debate, Trump told the nation, “The big problem with our country is being politically correct.” Okay, no, I don’t believe political correctness is our enemy.
But perhaps Trump wasn’t entirely wrong. It’s true that most of us aren’t great at talking about inflammatory subjects.
Personally, when confronted with an opposing viewpoint on a controversial issue, I clam up.
I don’t know how to explain my point of view without insulting the other person. On the other hand, we all know someone who tends to shut people down instead of listening to the other side of an argument. That person is Donald Trump.
A lot of us end up looking for a way out. When someone isn’t politically correct, that can be an excuse to dismiss their ideas and end the dialogue.
Regardless of our approaches to conflict, when both sides aren’t heard, we don’t have a conversation. This election has brought a lot of controversial issues into the spotlight. For some of us, it’s been uncomfortable.
For others, it’s been dangerous. But it can also be a chance to talk about the concerns that are so clearly important to many of us. We can begin
We can begin having conversations – real conversations – and be respectful about them.
*Minor online edits for sourcing.