Recently I wrote a post about what it is like as a conservative to be consistently called sexist and racist because we disagree with liberals on policy ideas. Although I explicitly stated multiple times that it was not the point of the post, I can see how it could be taken as little more than complaints that someone hurt our feelings. But it is about so much more than that. Liberals who engage in this type of indiscriminate character assassination were instrumental in electing President Trump.
For months now, many liberals have been flabbergasted that someone like Trump could be so successful in politics. They point to things Trump has said about women, Mexicans, and other groups, and shout to the internet “don’t you understand he is a sexist and a racist!” We can debate the meaning and implications of a wide variety of Trump’s statements, but there is no doubt that much of what he said would have been considered disqualifying in previous campaigns.
But while the language Trump used is new, the accusations against Republican candidates is not. In 2016, Mitt Romney was hailed as a shinning example of a good, decent, and moderate Republican. Four years earlier when he was the Republican nominee, he was called sexist for using awkward language (binders full of women) to describe his attempt to hire more women into the Massachusetts state government. Think about that for a moment. He was called sexist for a story about putting in extra effort to hire more women.
Four years before that, McCain was accused racism for every disagreement with, and criticism of, Obama. And this treatment continued for every Republican over the following eight years Obama was in office. I detailed some of them in my previous post, including the most astounding example of Sen. McConnell being accused of racism for making a joke that Obama played too much golf.
You can keep going back and finding the same routine. Remember the “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment? The 1990’s welfare reform, now widely regarded as successful, was called racist at the time. Reagan was called racist for supporting federalism.
This is not to say every liberal has done this, but enough have to give conservatives the impression that there is literally nothing a Republican can do to avoid being called racist and sexist. There is a limit to how many times you can listen to people falsely call your candidates bigots before you stop listening to them at all.
And here’s the thing: if you took the time to read this post, you are more engaged in politics than most Americans. I have lost count of the number of times a liberal has asked some version of “don’t Trump’s supporters know he said…” And for most of them the answer is likely no, they don’t. They know the same people who have called every prominent Republican sexist and racist for the last few decades have called another prominent Republican a sexist and racist. Why would they believe it is real this time when it was a lie so many times before?
Many people have asked how Trump could possibly be elected given the things he has said about women. The answer is simple: because of the things many liberals have said about Republicans.