Tell me who you’ve endorsed and I’ll tell you who you are

October 28, 2020 10:05 am

President Donald Trump is greeted by Gov. Doug Ducey after landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport for a visit to Honeywell International’s mask-making operation in Phoenix May 5, 2020. Photo by Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic | Pool photo

Political endorsements rarely decide the outcome of an election.

One of the rare exceptions was the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden by Congressman Jim Clyburn  just ahead of this year’s Democratic primary in South Carolina. Clyburn’s backing is generally viewed as having cemented Black support for Biden — not just in South Carolina, but across the South.

His campaign jump-started by his big win in South Carolina, Biden went on to sweep several more primaries in the region and take an insurmountable lead in the race for his party’s presidential nomination over his chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. If not for Clyburn’s endorsement, Biden likely would not be the Democratic presidential nominee today.

While rarely deciding a race, endorsements are revealing, especially when it comes to who’s doing the endorsing.

Gov. Doug Ducey, for instance, has been an enthusiastic supporter of President Donald Trump. At a Phoenix rally shortly after the Arizona primary in 2016, Ducey championed Trump’s business experience and leadership style, saying, “Washington, D.C., needs someone who will turn it upside down.”

With rare exceptions, Ducey has backed Trump’s chaos-wracked agenda ever since.

Sen. Martha McSally has been a loyal Trump backer since she kicked off her failed run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in 2018. After losing to Sinema that year, Ducey appointed McSally to fill the seat vacated by the death of Sen. John McCain. 

Like Ducey, McSally — who’s now running in a special election to stay in the Senate — has rarely if ever criticized Trump, apparently worried she could alienate voters from Trump’s right-wing base.

Yet, asked repeatedly in a recent televised debate with her Democratic rival Mark Kelly if she is proud of her support for Trump, McSally, hoping to attract independents, refused to answer, only saying, “I’m proud to be fighting for Arizona every single day.”

It’s normal, of course, for politicians to back their party’s standard bearer. But what if the agenda and behavior by the head of your party is an affront to human decency?

Said another way, what would it take for Ducey or McSally and the president’s backers across the country to un-endorse Trump. Because to stick with the guy and condone his behavior is to say, “Hey, keep on doing what you’re doing. I’m good with it.”

As in, I’m good with you building that wall at the border with Mexico, even though you told us Mexico was going to pay for it, which they haven’t, and you’ve since had to funnel money from the Defense Department to pay for its construction.

Keep on calling U.S. troops killed in action “losers” and “suckers” and discrediting reports from U.S. intelligence sources that Russian President Valdimir Putin is paying bounties to terrorists in Afghanistan to assassinate our soldiers. Oh, and if you talk to Putin by phone, which you have at least a half a dozen times over the past year, don’t even bring it up.

Keep on encouraging foreign leaders, like Putin, or the president of Ukraine or the president of China to dig up dirt on Biden and his family, even if they have to fabricate it, in order to damage his candidacy and help get you reelected.

Keep on downplaying the fact that Russia attacked our elections in 2016 (because they wanted to help you defeat Hillary Clinton) or the fact that they’re attacking us now to help you beat Biden.

Keep on spouting racist rhetoric like “Black Lives Matter is a symbol of hate”  and Mexican immigrants are drug dealers and “rapists,” and keep praising white supremacists by saying things like there were “some very fine people on both sides” at that rally where neo-Nazis marched and shouted, “Jews will not replace us.

Keep on defending a policy that separated thousands of migrant children from their parents in the U.S.-Mexico border, even in the face of reports that hundreds of those children may never be reunited with their families.

Keep on lying about mail-in ballots and claiming our election system is rife with fraud because you somehow think that will ensure your reelection, even though Republican and Democratic election officials nationwide vehemently disagree.

And by all means, keep on telling the American people the COVID-19 pandemic, which is on track to kill 400,000 people in the U.S. by January — almost as many American troops as died in WWII — is “ending” and that even without a vaccine it’s going to magically “go away” because it’s all been a big hoax and not the worst global health crisis in a 100 years.

My question for Ducey and McSally is this: given Trump’s morally bankrupt agenda over the past years why would you continue to endorse him? And if you refuse to withdraw your endorsement, what does that say about you?

There’s an old Spanish proverb that goes like this: “Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres.”

“Tell me who you’re with and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Doug Ducey, Martha McSally and anyone who’s pledged their support for Trump, we know who you are.

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James E. Garcia
James E. Garcia

James E. Garcia is a Phoenix-based journalist, playwright and communications consultant. He is the editor and publisher of Vanguardia Arizona, which covers Latino news statewide, and the weekly newsletter Vanguardia America. As a journalist, he has worked as a reporter, columnist, editor and foreign correspondent. He was the first Latino Affairs correspondent for KJZZ, and the first Latino editor of major progressive news weekly in the U.S., The San Antonio Current. James has taught writing, ethnic studies, theater and Latino politics at ASU. He is the producing artistic director of New Carpa Theater Co. and the author of more than 30 plays.