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TWO HIGH school students were suspended on September 29 for designing and wearing apparel that read “Trump 2016 White Power.” Although it was clear that these Montana students were prejudiced, this event is a high school version of a larger nationwide debate concerning whether support for Trump equates to the support of racial inequality in the United States.
Throughout the campaign season, I have heard many times: “all racists support Trump.” However, supporting Trump does not necessarily make you a racist—it simply makes you a Trump supporter.
Voters of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds care about different issues, and their support for Trump may stem from aspects of his campaign unrelated to his so-called “racist” views. Someone wearing a “Trump 2016” shirt or a “Make America Great Again” cap may support the unconventional Republican nominee for his economic policies, immigration reform platform, or trade deficit solutions.
Trump has promised to reinstitute Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics, halt the flow of Syrian refugees into this country, force the Mexican government to build a wall on our southern border, and bring an end to the outflux of American corporations leaving for China and South America.
Being that we live in a country where politics are dominated by a two-party system, voters understand that they will never agree with all of their preferred candidates’ positions. Some Americans feel that Trump’s stance on issues important to them heavily outweigh his racial positions.
Furthermore, voter choice in the 2016 election has notoriously been categorized not only by support for a candidate stemming from agreement with policies, but also hatred toward the opposing candidate. Many Americans lean toward supporting Donald Trump due to their skepticism of Hillary Clinton’s abilities to serve as president. Although formerly serving as a US Senator and Secretary of State, Clinton’s political scorecard is tainted by various infamous scandals involving deleted emails, the Benghazi attacks, the failure of trade agreements, and most recently, her victory over rival Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race.
Voters across the country have vowed “Neve r Hillary,” and are supporting Donald Trump merely because he is not Hillary Clinton. Unlike the standard Democrat and Republican voter bases, the voter base has become divided into four rather than two: Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, Trump haters, and Hillary haters. In retail clothing stores and online shopping sites such as Urban Outfitters and Amazon, anti-Trump apparel is being sold, reading “idk not Trump tho” and “Make America Bankrupt Again.”
Similarly, anti-Hillary clothing is branded “#neverHillary” and “Hillary for Prison.” Shoppers who buy these items are not necessarily supporters of a certain candidate, but rather strong opposers of the other candidate.
Attaching stigmas to citizen participation will result in an election that does not represent the majority of America. One cannot automatically correlate racism to those who want to vote for Trump; for them, he is the only option that fits their conservative perspectives.