In light of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent KKK misstep, we look to a 1984 Ronald Reagan quote for guidance on how Trump’s now glaring media issue may have been better handled.
“Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse.”
Over the weekend, Reagan’s now-reverberating 1984 comments gained renewed life as Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump made significant waves for not immediately disavowing the endorsement of former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. While reports suggest Trump’s father was involved in a 1927 Klan riot, Trump dodged CNN State Of the Union host Jake Tapper’s repeated pressing questions concerning the Klan, before eventually responding with this non-committal retort.
“I don’t know anything about David Duke okay… I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. I don’t know, did he endorse me? Or what’s going on. Because I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.”
However, in response to Trump’s comment, David Duke had this bold declaration for the Daily Beast.
“I think he knows who I am… But he doesn’t know what I actually stand for today.”
In fact, it was revealed as a matter of public record that Trump is undeniably aware of both Mr. Duke and his ideological platforms. When declining to run for POTUS as a member of the reform party in 2000, Trump specifically referenced Duke’s name in a press interview.
Mr. Trump’s decision to not immediately and emphatically distance himself from an endorsement made by a member of an organization long reputed for its platform of intolerance, while blatantly lying about his knowledge of its figurehead, has perturbed many American voters.
“Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse… The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.”
Such an earnest and firm refusal to accept the support of an entity long accounted for promoting hatred and racial disharmony was what many hoped Mr. Trump would have brought to the table. Unfortunately, for both Trump’s reputation and the fortunes of his candidacy, he did not.
Even in 1984, the American public had long grown weary of the Klan’s insidious agenda and responded overwhelmingly in a favorable manner to Reagan’s anti-Klan comments. Reagan’s resolve and conviction regarding such hot-button issues saw the former Californian Governor win the 1984 presidential election by a landslide over Democratic candidate Walter Mondale.
The venerable Mr. Reagan’s term in office has long been revered by staunch Republicans. Many feel as though “The Great Communicator’s” eight years as POTUS signified a palpable and definite change in the direction of world politics and foreign affairs.
Obviously, this is not the kind of negative attention that Trump wishes to see for his once steamrolling campaign. In hindsight “The Donald” would have been wise to heed Reagan’s hallowed words from the past.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]