Blue Ridge Mountains (n.) A place where many of the same parents who forbade their children from hearing a 2009 back to school address by President Obama now decorate their bodies, cars, and yards with campaign paraphernalia from the most vulgar candidate that’s run for office in modern history.
My neighborhood is full of Trump Pence 2016 signs. A majority of the Blue Ridge Mountains is covered in “Make America Great Again” hats, tee shirts, and campaign literature. This doesn’t bother me; I knew who many of these people were before the Trump campaign successfully normalized the latent bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and sexism that’s become synonymous with his presidential bid. I’ve read dozens of articles by people attempting to explain the lukewarm positions they publicly hold as it relates to all things Trump. “I don’t like or agree with everything he says, but he’s better than Hillary.” “He’s not a racist; he just wants America to come first.” Or (my personal favorite) “You weren’t worried about _______ (insert anything stupid or insensitive Trump has said or done that another person in history has said or done) before, why the double standard now?”
The time for making excuses for his petulant behavior expired about a calendar year ago. Every day there’s a new situation for his campaign surrogates to “Trumpsplain”. Donald Trump has pulled off one of the greatest political magic tricks our country has ever seen: he convinced his coalition of evangelicals, suburban and rust belt conservatives, and white nationalist that not only can he win the presidency without any help from the rest of the country, but that they should suspend their principles and defend his every misstep. He was right when he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters,”. That’s not a testament to the loyalty his supporters have for him, but an indictment of their inability to admit a mistake. Trump’s most loyal supporters have adopted his strategy of doubling down on mistakes. Pride is a powerful thing.
The same Trump supporters who have demanded perfection from President Obama over the last eight years have had to adjust their Judeo-Christian values to accept Trump's obvious character flaws. With a few months left in his final term many of them still don’t consider Mr. Obama a legitimate president. The Christian right would have never forgiven President Obama if he had five children by three different women? Who seriously believes Barack Obama could have bragged about the size of his penis in a debate and continued his campaign? Would Pat Robertson make excuses for his sexist, racist, and xenophobic comments? I knew his most loyal supporters wouldn't be fazed by an audio tape of him admitting to being a sexual predator. Many of these people excuse bigoted remarks every day.
I sat down to write this knowing that some variation of this post has been written a thousand times, yet I can’t help but call out the blatant hypocrisy many inside the Trump tent work so hard to deny and explain away. In my community there were close to a dozen people who made a big enough fuss about President Obama’s back to school address in 2009 that all of the schools in our area had to send permission slips home so parents could decide if it's OK for their children to hear a Black man tell them education is important and to stay in school. Many of those same people spend their free time on social media circulating lies constructed by alt-right think tanks and memes generated for the sole purpose of normalizing bigotry. I don’t know if this circle of hypocrisy can be broken. The Trump Pence 2016 crowd is the McCain Palin 2008 crowd; If President Obama had said that John McCain wasn’t a war hero, there would have been calls for him to drop out of the race and he possibly would have faced censure from the U.S. Senate, yet we know these same people just chalked that up to Donald being Donald.
Before President Obama gave his 2009 national address to school students the prevailing sentiments of many in opposition to his speech was that it was a form of Socialist indoctrination or he hasn’t earned our trust yet. I went back and found quotes from old stories on right-wing websites that covered the outrage. This is a sampling of what the "Make America Great Again" crowd thought about protecting their children's delicate sensitivities.
"It's a form of indoctrination, and I think, really, it's indicative of the culture that the Obama administration is trying to create," "It's very socialistic."
"I have to sign permission slips for my kids to watch R-rated movies in school," Moore said, explaining that she felt parents were being blindsided by the president's address. "It was simply presented, 'Hey, we're going to do this, this is when it's going to air and you're going to show it to your kids.'"
“I think this president has done nothing to earn our trust or respect. I’m obviously politically biased, I also hated Bill Clinton but wouldn’t have minded him speaking to our students. I truly do not trust this man. The office of the presidency is one to be respected, however the man himself must earn that respect. In this particular instance, I do believe his intentions to be pure, but i just can’t trust anything he does. I will not do anything to curb my teachers from showing the speech, but my daughter and I will have a lengthy discussion about government and principals this nation was founded on. Perhaps that’s the issue here, parenting!!!”
“The idea of having Obama speak directly to children without so much as a permission slip being sent home just "makes you feel a little funny," said Beth Milledge of Winterset, Iowa. She said she plans on going to school with her 8-year-old son to watch the address with him.”
Conservatives and Evangelicals have permanently suspended their right to ever challenge another politician's character. Almost a decade after announcing his bid for The White House President Obama still has to be perfect in a way many Americans refuse to admit is rooted in a deeply racist embrace of white supremacy. Donald Trump has done something President Obama didn't do: make us believe anyone could become president.