EDITORIAL: The deplorable Trump effect
We doubt Donald Trump is turning Americans into ignorant bigots.
It’s hard to imagine intelligent, tolerant, compassionate people waking up one day, reading the GOP presidential nominee’s latest thoughts on women, Muslims, Hispanics or African-Americans, and saying, “You know, I never thought of it that way …”
We suspect most of them were clinging to their hateful beliefs — shared only behind closed doors, in the safe company of like-minded bigots — long before the party of Lincoln was hijacked by an unhinged, fringe candidate.
No, Trump’s rise simply gave these people cover to raise their ugly heads in public.
Of course not every Trump follower fits into the “basket of deplorables.”
Some, maybe even most, are probably just not paying attention, misinformed or so unhappy with the Democratic nominee that they’ll back any alternative, even one as unfit for office as Trump.
Still … it’s a mighty big basket, and it can’t contain the garbage.
For instance, Charles Wasko just climbed out.
The West York mayor’s racist posts on his public Facebook page came to light last week, prompting a chorus of calls from borough officials, police officers and residents for his resignation.
Wasko, who was elected mayor in 2013, posted several pictures this year that appalled council members, including two that compared President Barack Obama and his family to apes, and one suggested Obama should be hanged with a noose.
Another post featured a fictional black person saying that socialism is "when the white folks work every day so we can get all our governmental entitlement stuff for free."
Council President Shawn Mauck was shocked when the posts were pointed out to him.
"I almost don't know what to say," he said of the "disgusting" posts. "I kind of want to throw up."
To CNN, Mauck cited "age of Trump that has made anything possible," and said, "it's time that we start pushing back and say no to this kind of rhetoric."
Yes, this story went national, and Wasko received the widespread condemnation he deserved, in addition to the calls for his ouster.
Unfortunately, though, there’s no apparent mechanism to remove him from office, and the residents of West York are stuck with this embarrassment at least until the end of his term next year.
We’re not optimistic Wasko will heed the calls for his resignation and leave voluntarily. This man is a proud racist, practically wallowing in his hate. Most of the offensive posts were still on his Facebook page last weekend for all to see.
In response to a Facebook friend’s reference to the controversy, the mayor seized on one of Trump’s talking points.
"Sorry, But I will not be politically correct, I say what is on my mind and what I believe in, I say what people think but are afraid to upset the liberal media and crooked politicians ... there will be more to come from me," Wasko wrote.
He was incredibly blunt on camera with ABC27 News when a reporter showed up on his doorstep Friday.
Wasko said the outrage over his social media posts is a smokescreen to cover up what’s “really going on” with the borough council — but he owned up to his bigotry.
“The racist stuff, yeah I’ll admit I did that, and I don’t care what people label me as,” he said. “But I will bring everything out and there will be more resignations than mine, believe me.”
As disturbing as it is to realize there are people like this living in our society, we’re glad Wasko and other deplorables are making themselves known. It’s good to know who to avoid.
Again — let’s not lump every Trump supporter in the same basket. Some might not blame all of their problems, and place all of their fears, on “others” who don’t look, live or pray like they do.
Some who do feel that way could possibly be convinced otherwise.
But engage someone like Wasko? Change him? Good luck with that — just take a look at his entire public Facebook page.
No, it’s going to be up to the residents of West York to change.
The borough is home to just fewer than 5,000 people, yet only 2,495 of them were registered to vote in 2013 and only 607 turned out on Election Day.
Wasko, running unopposed, claimed his office that year with a measly 402 votes.
We think most West York residents are sickened by Wasko, just as we think most Americans are repulsed by Donald Trump.
It’s up to the majority to exercise their rights — register, then vote — to keep deplorables away from even the tiniest lever of power.