Ellie Hogrebe, Staff Writer
It is not particularly controversial to say that President Trump frequently seems to make rash, impulsive statements. Whether you think his Twitter hijinks are amusing or offensive, and whether you see his unscripted remarks during speeches as ingenious or idiotic, people on both sides of the political spectrum can agree the president says some things without much forethought.
Since Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren circulated purported evidence on Oct. 15 which was intended to support her long-standing claims of being part Native American, President Trump must respond to one such impulsive statement. At a rally of his earlier this year, the president indicated he would donate $1 million to the charity of Warren’s choice if Warren could prove her Native American ancestry.
Senator Warren, perhaps in a bid to garner support and confidence from voters for a potential presidential run in 2020, released a video that supposedly confirms her Native American heritage. However, the geneticist who tested her DNA was only able to determine that Warren could possibly be between 1/64th and 1/1024th parts Native American. Evidently, these amounts of ancestry are essentially insignificant.
When it comes to this story, far more concerning to me than the presence of Cherokee DNA in Senator Warren is the tone this episode sets for the future of American politics, as well as for the lives of American citizens in general. Her assertions over the years of being part Native American have continuously sparked hot debates among skeptics and supporters that take up a significant amount of time on news outlets. Republicans and Democrats, as well as people scattered all over the political spectrum, have been pulled into contentious discussions about the validity of the senator’s proclamations of being part Native American.
The importance placed on this story by hosts on CNN and FOX News alike is ominous. Social media is alight with people discussing the situation. It has become utterly essential for people to declare their opinions on the possibility that Elizabeth Warren is, in fact, part Native American.
This pattern is foreboding. I believe in a country where people succeed personally and professionally based on merit, hard work and character. People should get ahead in their lives because they have developed desirable characteristics within themselves and learned to express those traits in an effective way that makes them attractive as employees, friends or leaders.
I recognize that there are cases, in workplaces and in personal relationships between people, where this ideal is not happening. However, I believe in striving to foster a society of judging people based on their character and actions, regardless of their racial status, heritage or ethnicity.
This Warren episode highlights a burgeoning trend among some factions of this country to make racial and ethnic qualities all-important factors of a person.
A person’s ancestry should not be used as a tool to amass political support. Whether or not Senator Warren is part Native American, I fear this incident sets a precedent for future politicians to make their genetic code a defining aspect of their campaigns instead of their policy beliefs or plans for improving the welfare of their constituents.
Ultimately, I do not have strong feelings about whether President Trump donates the money to Senator Warren’s charity. I respect a person who follows through with their commitments, but I see Warren’s presented evidence as tenuous at best. I care more that this story will alert Americans to the disturbing tendency of some political figures to make an immutable characteristic of a person, like their race, significant in determining their credibility or desirability for a certain position rather than their values, merits and ideas.
As the consequential midterm elections draw closer, I hope that Americans will make voting decisions that reject this troubling position.