Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Values Voter Summit.

Hillary Clinton Calls Trump Followers ‘Basket of Deplorables’: What Does Clinton Mean By This?

As reported by CNN, on Friday night, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested that at least half of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables.” It’s a catchy phrase and certainly sounds appropriate for Trump and his followers, but what exactly does it mean when she calls them deplorables?

Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during he LGBT for Hillary Gala.
Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the LGBT for Hillary Gala. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment was clearly referring to the fact that so many of Trump’s supporters seem to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or some nightmarish combination of all four. But is this really true, and if so how does Trump manage to attract these “deplorables” to his campaign?

Let’s start with the racists. Racist deplorables are comprised of those people who believe that white, Anglo-Saxon America is – somehow – getting the short end of the stick these days. These Trump supporters seem to feel that “Make America Great” means putting people of color back in their place. Trump’s refusal to denounce unquestioned deplorables like David Duke – notable for his KKK membership – only draws in more people with a similar mindset.

In fact, Trump himself has done nothing to discourage this attitude in his followers. Along with his own racist comments against Hispanics – suggesting that they are all drug dealers and rapists – he has brought in a team of equally deplorable advisors who come with their own racist baggage. For instance, Trump’s new campaign chief, Steve Bannon, has frequently made highly anti-Semitic remarks in public and in private.

But when it comes to attracting the sexist deplorables, Donald Trump needs little help from his staff. Almost from day one of his campaign, Trump has made frequent and unapologetic misogynistic statements. In addition to suggesting women on his truly deplorable reality show should focus on their looks – which he seems to consider a woman’s most important characteristic – Trump has also said countless other things that objectify women. This includes, “A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10” or “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

If that last bit of creepiness weren’t enough to fill Trump’s basket of deplorables with insecure sexists, there is always Trump’s comment about Fox’s Megyn Kelly, in which Trump suggested her sharp questions were a result of PMS. But is saying all this, Trump seems to have forgotten that women in the United States comprise more than 50 percent of the population and are currently allowed to vote.

Trump’s various homophobic remarks are equally infamous and deplorable. As MSNBC has reported, Trump has suggested on Fox News that he might try to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who would ban same-sex marriage. There is also his comment about Arianna Huffington, in which he said, “I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”

Finally, there are the xenophobic contents of Trump’s deplorables basket. In this area, Donald Trump hasn’t hesitated to tap into the worst aspects of human nature to further his campaign. Taking advantage of people’s fears of outsiders, of losing jobs and of change in general, Trump has targeted both Muslims and Hispanics.

Recognizing that many Americans can’t differentiate between extremist Muslims carrying out a terrorist agenda and ordinary Muslims just attempting to live their lives in freedom, Trump has ramped up rhetoric about deporting Muslims and preventing further Muslim immigration. This effectively ticks one more group of deplorables off Trump’s checklist.

In the same way, Trump’s accusations against illegal immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere and his absurd suggestion of building a wall between the United States and Mexico appeals to right-wing extremists across the country. While most Americans find such suggestions alternately reprehensible and laughable, the deplorables in Trump’s party – not surprisingly – don’t.

More than a century and a half ago, Abraham Lincoln appealed to what he described as “the better angels of our nature” when trying to prevent the Civil War. As Hillary Clinton correctly pointed out in her speech yesterday, Donald Trump is reaching out to a very different segment of our population. If Lincoln wanted the best from our nation, Trump seems to want the worst.

[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]