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Clinton struggles to stay polite amid Trump's slights

Sarah Camino, Guest Columnist

It is an election of pejoratives, yet among the rapists, losers, Lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary, Goofy Elizabeth Warren and deplorables, some, I assume, are good people. Surely, most unimpeachable of all, are the constituents themselves. At the very least, it seems a poor strategy on Clinton's part to further alienate an already malcontent electorate by deigning to the worst stereotypes about Trump supporters.

Despite the seeming disadvantageous nature of denigrating the voting public even if they are supporters of your bombastic opponent, does it really make a candidate unfit, as Mike Pence suggested at a House Leadership GOP news conference on Tuesday?

Donald Trump writes on his website in characteristic belligerent and juvenile language, "being politically correct takes too much time." Even as Trump has become more "presidential," following a teleprompter and apologizing at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina for any "personal pain" he may have caused by past remarks, his campaign has been less about preserving dignity than condescending to it.

Within a few breaths, he drew a conclusion of dubious logic. "I will always tell you the truth," he promised, hardly accidentally invoking an argument that brazen, insensitive language is somehow objectively more valuable as truth. In light of this epistemology, Clinton's public condemnation of the few, but notable, avowed white supremacists among the Trump camp, and the less extreme racist and xenophobic tendencies in his adherents should not cross a line. Yet, it does -- irrevocably, as republicans no doubt hope.

Despite a Gallup poll recently revealing that living in an area of low diversity correlates with favorable views towards Trump, it would be unfair to call Trump's entire base a homogeneous group built around central attitudes of bigotry. Yet, undeniably some part of the trend among Trump supporters towards racist and xenophobic attitudes is real, and at any rate Hillary only incriminated "half" of Trump voters, while Trump makes sweeping generalizations all the time, often accusing a much larger proportion of a minority population. In the rhetoric of this election, immigration -- illegal or otherwise -- has been almost always synonymous with Mexico except for a subcategory of prejudice devoted to Muslims. He says "the Hispanics" and "the African Americans," except when he charmingly invokes the personal pronoun as a child talks about his lego skyscrapers.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to suggest that in some forgotten detrius-filled gutter in Cleveland, voters, even Trump supporters, expect a certain degree of decorum from their candidates. Beyond personal offense, this issue becomes one of a double standard that for once may be less about gender than reputation. Trump's persona is built on the paradoxical idea of a "blue-collar billionaire," some unpalatable insults and an entrance into the presidential race on a languorous escalator -- the chariot of grimy malls across the United States.

As Trump said in that address in Charlotte, North Carolina, "too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues [of political correctness]." At least in this case, Trump raises a valuable point. Whether Hillary Clinton called half of Trump's supporters deplorable, or Trump called "some" Mexicans good people, should not matter in this election.

According to Politico, Trump lags only 5 points behind Clinton, yet in many ways, the attitude is still that he will turn back into a pumpkin at midnight. Perhaps this attitude is not more manifest than in the lack of direct repercussions for Trump's language in the polls and the double standard of propriety between the candidates. Why care about Trump's ribald rhetoric when he will eventually go away? His absurdity makes it easier to accept a frightening ethos of offensiveness for the sake of it, affronts for the thrill. However if we know we can expect outrage and spectacle from Trump, it is unreasonable to expect Clinton to maintain the quickly eroding high ground.

Whether Clinton should preserve the traditional deference of candidates towards their electorate is a matter of mere etiquette. Encouraging violence towards protesters and engendering prejudice towards minorities is one of national character.

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