North Texas Daily

Not being Trump isn’t enough to exonerate all politicians

Not being Trump isn’t enough to exonerate all politicians

Not being Trump isn’t enough to exonerate all politicians
December 05
11:38 2019

Trump’s presidency is a culmination of past infractions by other conservatives, but following the 2016 presidential election, those browbeaten by the news began to view past these particular politicians through a distinctly unproductive lens.

Ellen Degeneres’ cloying affirmation of her friendship with George W. Bush provoked a series of contradictory responses from internet users. Many seemed to recognize that Degeneres’ financial status and race made her less vulnerable to oppressive political policies than other members of the LGBTQ community, while others lauded Degeneres  for her supposed open-mindedness.

While she would probably do well to refrain from befriending war criminals, Degeneres is far from the only person to glorify conservative politicians for nothing more commendable than not being Trump.

Rather than recognize that Republican rhetoric directly contributed to the extremity of Trump’s preferred policies, many have expressed nostalgia for politicians they previously despised.

During the 2016 election, many conservative politicians, news outlets and civilians grappled with their priorities. Some denounced Trump as an extremist, but most eventually adapted to the new vocality of their party, a development that attests to the nature of the Republican party prior to the election.

I feel that even those who condemned Trump should be held accountable for supporting a party that has harbored bigoted principles since the 1960s. Ronald Reagan withheld funding from organizations working to solve the AIDS crisis because AIDS had been plaguing the queer community specifically, and he was not willing to risk his conservative reputation to preserve a demographic he did not percieve as fully human.

Thousands of gay men died as a result of his negligence.

Bush fumbled relief efforts in regards to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the predominantly African American city of New Orleans in 2005. Both of these episodes parallel Trump’s underwhelming response to Hurricane Harvey in Puerto Rico.

Bush took advantage of post 9/11 hysteria by starting a war under primarily false pretenses. The “War on Terror” increased anti-Islamic sentiment within the United States and resulted in the deaths of many Iraqi civilians. Bush even authorized the use of torture during interrogations, despite having likely overstated the threat foreign countries posed to America.

His opposition to the legalization of gay marriage makes his friendship with Degeneres, a lesbian woman, all the more confounding. If Degeneres were transgender, or a person of color or too poor to defend herself against oppressive policies, I doubt very much that they would be friends, as her existence is already inherently political.

Bush was and is powerful enough to sway public opinion, and every time he seized the opportunity to do so, a marginalized demographic suffered immensely for it.

If anything good could conceivably come from a Trump presidency, it would be a lesson in the prevention of fascism. There were signs that a presidency of this nature could exist prior to its implementation, and by ignoring them, voters ensured their effectiveness.

If we remain in denial, we risk repeating our mistakes.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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