Politics & Policy

For Want of a Nail . . .

Per Reuters, this little drama played itself out over the weekend:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday defended a social media post he made two days earlier that included an image depicting Democratic rival Hillary Clinton against a backdrop of cash and a Star of David, while Clinton called the image anti-Semitic.

In a tweet on Monday, Trump said he had not meant the six-pointed star to refer to the Star of David, which is a symbol of Judaism. Rather, he said, the star could have referred to a sheriff’s badge, which is shaped similarly except for small circles at the ends of each of its six points, or a “plain star.”

The presumptive Republican nominee later released a statement saying Clinton’s criticism of the image was an attempt to distract the public from “the dishonest behavior of herself and her husband.”

Upon reading this, the first thing that popped into my mind was not “anti-Semitism!” It was: “This is yet another piece of evidence that Donald Trump is not running a proper campaign.” Why do I say that? Because, even at this stage, Trump clearly doesn’t have a graphic designer.

Look through Hillary Clinton’s Twitter feed. What do you notice? Professionalism, that’s what. Clinton has her team make her custom memes. You can tell because they have consistent fonts, kerning, colors, etc., and they match her campaign website. Trump’s feed, by unlovely contrast, is a mess. Sometimes, he tweets himself; sometimes, he re-tweets others (and in the way we used to re-tweet in 2009); sometimes, he shares memes. To some of his fans, I am sure that this is “refreshing”; just more evidence that he’s not a “normal politician.” To the rest of us, though, it is an indication of just how amateurish the whole thing is.

It’s also an indication that this will not be the last such contretemps in which the campaign is involved. I do not know if Donald Trump is a racist or an anti-Semite. I don’t know, either, whether he or his staff are trying to send subtle messages to those who are. But I do know that, while he refuses to hire people who know what they’re doing, he’s going to get himself into trouble. If Trump had a graphic designer on his staff, he could have made the point he wanted to make without embroiling himself in a food fight. But he doesn’t have a graphic designer on his staff, and in consequence his team is forced to trawl the Internet for memes and messages that have already been made. And — you can see where I’m going here — what happens when you trawl the Internet for memes and messages that have already been made? By and large you find filth — especially when the most vocal online champions of your candidacy are rank bigots.

We hear great deal about the importance of the “grassroots” in politics, but not enough about the quality of the grass. In Trump’s case, he has chosen — repeatedly — to outsource much of his messaging to truly terrible human beings. Of course they’re going to use the opportunity to spread ugliness.

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