We’re facing a decision about who we want to be

St. Onge
St. Onge jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Editor’s note: This has been a long, tumultuous presidential campaign, the likes of which we may never see again. The three writers of The Observer’s editorial board decided to offer their parting thoughts on it before Election Day on Tuesday. Click on the links to see the other two essays.

There was the man who stood at a Donald Trump rally in Florida and yelled at the media about selling their souls for “a few shekels.”

There was the Mississippi church that was gutted by arson, with “Vote Trump” scrawled on its side.

There were the white nationalists who announced they would hand out liquor and marijuana to persuade inner-city blacks not to vote in Philadelphia on Election Day.

All of that, in just 24 hours last week.

This presidential election is about a lot of important things – Supreme Court justices and immigration and, of course, character. It’s also about who we want to be.

Do we want to be a country where hate is winked at, nodded at, or even celebrated? Do we want to live in Donald Trump’s America, where Mexicans are rapists and Muslims have to prove they share our values?

Understand this: Hate is not exclusive to any one ideology or one candidate’s supporters. But only one candidate in this presidential race has been too hesitant to condemn the repulsiveness that comes from those supporters.

Because of that, white nationalist groups have been emboldened by Trump’s candidacy. Instead of skulking in the corners, racists and bigots have felt invited into the mainstream. They’re loud and proud on Twitter, in emails, at rallies.

In another event last week, this one in Arizona, a man stood near the press and shouted “JEW-S-A.” The campaign did nothing then, and as usual, the candidate said nothing later. Because that’s Donald Trump’s America. Do we want it to be ours?