I found yet another thing to like about Easter yesterday which I really hadn’t been anticipating. In addition to church and some refreshing spring gardening work, a day off from the political battlefield actually had me feeling more relaxed and in an upbeat mood by the end of the evening. I was commenting on this to some friends last night when I realized that one of the things I look forward to least each day is the endless stream of ugly comments on Twitter… a virtual social club which I used to very much enjoy. And the nexus of most of the unpleasantness – which will come a surprise to nobody – is Donald Trump.
I’m used to the liberals and conservatives battling it out on social media, but for large numbers of us it’s frequently done in a friendly, spirited fashion. (That may seem hard to believe, but the two sides mix quite a bit both in real life and online, policy differences aside.) This past six months, though, things have gotten considerably darker, particularly on the conservative side of the aisle. The fights over support of Donald Trump vs the #NeverTrump crowd have gone far past the stage of simply being unpleasant as I’ve written about here before. I’ll fully grant that Trump’s supporters dish out more than their fair share of nasty comments and attacks (adding to the frequently abrasive remarks coming from their preferred candidate) which clutter my timeline on a regular basis. But let’s not pretend that #NeverTrump hasn’t answered in kind, frequently choosing to denigrate members of their own “team” in the ideological wars rather than sticking to criticism of the candidate.
That’s why this story seemed particularly sad when I saw it pop up on Yahoo News this week. An Arizona business owner of Mexican descent, one Betty Rivas, showed up at a rally for Donald Trump and was caught in a photo with the business mogul at the podium. Since that time she has been the target of continual harassment, along with her El Salvadoran husband and the restaurant they own.
The rally happened on Saturday, March 19, and the harassment began the following night. Phone calls inundate Rivas, who is Mexican, and her husband Jorge, who is El Salvadoran. The people on the other end call them racists and threaten their business, according to local ABC affiliate KGUN9…
“I haven’t done anything wrong; I have the right to say what I’m thinking,” Rivas said to KGUN9. “I can go listen to Hillary, I can go listen to Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, because I’m within my right. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
But Yelp reviewers clicking away at their keyboards don’t care very much about the real story. Sammy’s Mexican Grill’s Yelp page is awash with the murky-brown luster of inflammatory one-star reviews.
There’s a serious amount of confusion surrounding this case because Rivas isn’t even a confirmed Trump supporter. She also showed up holding signs at a Bernie Sanders rally and says that she’s torn between the two candidates. Say what you will about either of her choices, but she’s at least putting some effort into the decision making process.
So where are these attacks coming from? There’s no doubt that at least some of them are coming from the Left, particularly among those who think that any minority voter who supports a Republican – particularly Donald J. Trump – is some sort of a race traitor. But the comments left for her and the endless negative reviews on Yelp and other social media sites make it clear that at least part of them are coming from conservatives as well.
Isn’t this sort of sad? In a season where the 2012 postmortem was supposedly focused on attracting more support in the Hispanic community and building bridges to small businesses with policies which foster job creation in that important sector, Rivas could easily be the poster child for what the GOP needs to accomplish. And yet, if she decides to back the current frontrunner she is treated like yet more trash under the heel of her betters.
I understand that some high profile conservative “thought leaders” are ready to cede the battle without a fight if they don’t get their way in the primary, but not everyone is similarly inclined. The case of Betty Rivas should be a prime example. If your goal is to simply destroy the party in the event of a Trump nomination then there’s not much I can say to you, but be aware that there’s a large segment of the party base who doesn’t feel that way. Many of us would still rather fight for a Ted Cruz victory than a Donald Trump defeat, and if we fail in that effort, working to prevent Hillary Clinton from taking the White House is still a battle worth waging.