The verbal assault on Hillary Clinton at the Republican Party convention seems to have no boundaries. Anything goes, anything can be said. Nobody – certainly not Trump – shows any disposition to rein in this ugly, unapologetic rhetorical cascade of hate and misogyny coming from the speakers’ platform and the convention floor.
What is troubling is the silence of the major media about this uninterrupted and unprecedented hate barrage. While some commentators have mentioned it, no one seems particularly outraged. In their view, it’s just a tactical mistake by Trump’s team – too much focus on Hillary and not enough on their own standard bearer.
But this misses the main point entirely. This unrelieved sexist gang up on Hillary, expressed in multiple forms, has no place in politics or anywhere else. And make no mistake about it; this isn’t only an attack on Hillary – her looks, voice, hair, dress, integrity, and fitness to be president – as bad as that is; it is an assault on every woman – young and old – who dares to challenge barriers to gender equality.
What we have seen over the past few days in Cleveland is on a similar scale as the racist backlash that followed the election of President Obama in 2008. And, as we know, that gave rise to the Tea Party and the Republicans’ recapture of the House of Representatives in 2010. This wave of misogyny, closely intermingled with a new surge of racist and anti-immigrant-Islamophobic invective, has obviously bigger ambitions this year. Its aim is to mobilize tens of millions to vote for Trump and the rest of the Republican right-wing gang as well as discourage and demobilize a section of voters who might otherwise come out for Hillary.
It is said that Trump’s ascendancy to the top of the Republican Party is explained by the economic alienation of white men. Some truth is found here, but we shouldn’t take it too far. The main mobilizing pillars of his unexpected popularity were the ideologies of hate, division, and oppression.
Thus, Hillary’s supporters, and especially her white supporters, have to patiently – not self-righteously – and drawing from their own experience and feelings, discuss the nature and consequences of these inhuman and destructive ideologies with other white people wherever they gather – homes, workplaces, churches, union halls, bars, gyms, and college campuses. And the purpose isn’t to score points, but to move people to higher ground, where their future and the path to get there come into view in entirely new ways – including the necessity to defeat Trump and elect Hillary in a landslide this fall.