Sheila Simmons

Sheila Simmons

Are your friends, acquaintances, or colleagues a “deplorable”? Are they the “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it” people of Hillary Clinton’s basket comment? Or in some other manner, are they a . . . gasp . . .Trump supporter? (Insert Alfred Hitchcock-like theme music here.)

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s supporters apparently are not who we think they are. Trump is actually leading by 5 percentage points in a new Bloomberg poll among Ohio voters.

Yes, you read that right, leading. A whole state is taking him seriously.

(Trump is leading in Florida too — by 2 percentage points — but politically, that’s a not a real state. After the hanging chads thing in the 2000 presidential tallies, it became more like an outlying land mass of unpredictability that we all have to tolerate.)

The Bloomberg poll says Trump’s supporters are made up of more than just uneducated White people. They now include the educated White people — the supposedly more enlightened.

Personally, I don’t generally do name-calling. So Clinton’s description of American residents whom she might have to serve later left me slightly uncomfortable. But then came word of the protest at a Trump rally in Asheville, N.C., where a 73-year-old South Carolina man punched a female protester in the face.

The 69-year-old victim, recalled the incident recently on WLOS-TV, the local news station in Asheville, saying, “I said, ‘You better learn to speak Russian,’ and I said, ‘The first two words are going to be ‘ha ha.’ He stopped in his tracks, and he turned around and just cold-cocked me.”

She reported falling on her oxygen tank, and being left with sore ribs, a sore jaw and a cut to her elbow, according to the story on WLOS.com.

Cold-cock a 69-year-old woman with an oxygen tank? Who does that? People who are, err, deplorable?

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2016, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. With each teleprompter speech, policy shift and attempt to whitewash his past behavior, Donald Trump is brazenly betting that voters will set aside all that came before his late-in-the-campaign recalibration. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

FILE – In this Sept. 16, 2016, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. With each teleprompter speech, policy shift and attempt to whitewash his past behavior, Donald Trump is brazenly betting that voters will set aside all that came before his late-in-the-campaign recalibration. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The deplorables are not ashamed of their deplorableness. In a rally in Ohio recently, Trump supporters showed up with “Deplorable Me” T-shirts.

It all has the eerie glee of a KKK rally, or one of those pick-a-nigger (picnic) events whose images featured smiling children.

Trump’s base is still largely White. According to Bloomberg, his biggest demographic is White men without a college degree (+43 percent), White men overall (+27 percent) and White women without a college degree (+23 percent).

It also said 7 in 10 of the Trump supporters polled in Ohio acknowledged that the Mexican wall was “unrealistic.” (“Dumb” is a better word, but hey, I don’t write the poll questions.)

For the voters surveyed, their negative feelings about Clinton boiled down to their distrust around the 2012 Benghazi attacks in Libya (59 percent), her private email server (57 percent) and the Clinton Foundation’s donors (53 percent). Fifty-seven percent were also skeptical of the trade deals. Unemployment and jobs were also top issues.

In Ohio, enough people had worked through their issues on race to give Barack Obama a more favorable opinion than of Clinton or Trump. Forty-six percent indicated they viewed him favorably.

So Trump supporters are not exactly illiterate people who’ve never traveled beyond the hills of West Virginia. Some are part of our daily lives. And they don’t care if their leader has called Mexicans racists, ordered supporters to sock protesters in the face or called a woman a fat pig. They’re with him.

But Black voters and others who have laughed off such episodes need to start taking Trump seriously. We need to consider that this man could be the next leader of our nation and of the free world.

Pennsylvania voter registration deadline is Oct. 11. If you’re not registered, get on it, before we become what the rest of the world considers — a nation of “deplorables.”

Sheila Simmons is an award-winning journalist and a public relations specialist. She is the author of “Memoir of a Minnie Riperton Fan.” She can be reached at ssimmons@phillytrib.com or www.simmonssheila.com.

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