Hillary Clinton stood in front of a banner that read “Stronger Together,” but her words attacked the very character and value of half of Trump voters, roughly a quarter of voting-age Americans. Donald Trump is supposed to be the one who is hateful and divisive, but Hillary’s words reveal a disdain for many Americans she claims she wants to lead as president.
Read her words carefully. Hillary Clinton told supporters in uptown New York on September 9th, “To be just grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”
OK, let’s be honest. The definition of deplorable is not a label you want thrown at you: “Very bad in a way that causes shock, fear, or disgust; lamentable; deserving censure or contempt.” There are a very few on either side of our political divide who are truly deplorable. There are certainly some who are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or Islamophobic. But not a quarter of Americans of either political stripe.
Hillary has apologized for her comments, and I’m sure she wishes she had never said them. But how do you lead people you don’t respect?
Her comments have been compared to Mitt Romney’s fateful statement privately recorded at a campaign event in Boca Raton, Florida. The video recording was leaked to the liberal magazine, Mother Jones, on Sept. 17, 2012. His comments added fuel to a heated presidential race and followed him throughout his campaign. Romney’s remarks did negatively characterize millions of Americans who he said “solidly supported” President Barack Obama.
His comments attacked half of American voters when he said, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”
Romney continued, "These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
You can decide whose comments are worse. There is some truth in what Mitt has said. It is true that nearly 50 percent of Americans pay no income tax and receive more from government than they pay in. But most of those voters want an economy that will produce the jobs that will allow them to be successful enough to pay taxes. They want a president who believes in them and their future. Mitt Romney didn’t believe he could connect, and he lost the election.
At the 1992 Republican Convention, Ronald Reagan shared his secret to his wide support: “I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence, rather than your doubts.” That’s our power—It's America's power. Reagan started using the gallery at his State of the Union addresses to honor citizens and their contribution.
Speaking from the White House, Reagan lived out his belief in Americans when he said: “I’m not taking your time this evening to ask you to trust me. Instead, I ask you to trust yourself. That is what America is all about… It’s the power of millions of people like you who will determine what will make America great again.” Reagan humbly knew that the strength of America resides in a free people empowered by an optimistic dream of what they can become in a free country.
We are waiting for a president who can rekindle that confidence in order to truly make America great again. Romney ruled out 47 percent of the voters, and he did not win. Hillary has written off 25 percent, and she must not win.
It’s hard to know what we will get with Donald Trump, but he is meeting with people many Republicans assume they can’t reach. He’s talking about unleashing a stronger economy that will lift all boats. I hope he turns out to be a president who believes in the future of all Americans—the “deplorables,” the “leftists,” the “conservatives,” the old, the young, the blacks, the whites, those now on welfare, those now in the top one percent, all who long to make America work for their future. It’s clear Hillary doesn’t.