Exploring Human Potential

What is the history behind Trump’s “Racehorse Theory?”

Posted on | March 14, 2024 | 4 Comments

Note: Randy Souders and Mike Magee served together on the Board of Jean Kennedy Smith’s Kennedy Center Arts and Disability Program,Very Special Arts (VSA) from 2002 to 2007.

Randy Souders,
Guest Editorial
Professional Artist /Arts & Disability Advocate / Quadriplegic (since 1972)

When I was injured at the age of 17 the world was still quite closed for people like me. That was a year before passage of HR 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As I recall that law was the first to mandate access to public places that received federal funds. A  year later Jean Kennedy Smith founded VSA (Very Special Arts) which has provided important arts opportunities to literally millions of people with disabilities around the globe. It was a very different world back then and artistic achievement was an important way people such as myself could prove their worth to a society that still saw little evidence of it.

It’s unbelievable to think there are serious threats to roll back many of those hard won gains in the name of deregulation and profitability. Disability is costly and people with disabilities are still woefully underemployed. So when a billionaire presidential candidate repeatedly mocks people with disabilities, how long till the “useless/ unworthy” excuses rise again? The old term describing a person with a disability as an “invalid” has another meaning. The adjective use is defined as “Not validnot true, correct, acceptable or appropriate.”

Few today are aware that the first victims of the Holocaust were the mentally, physically and neurologically disabled people. They were systematically murdered by several Nazi programs specifically targeting them. The Nazi regime was aided in their crimes by perverted “medical doctors and other experts” who were often seen wearing white lab coats in order to visually reinforce their propaganda.

Branded as “useless eaters” and existing as “lives not worthy of life,” people with disabilities were declared an unbearable burden both to German society and the state. As Holocaust historians have documented, “From 1939 to 1941 the Nazis carried out a campaign of euthanasia known as the T4 program (an abbreviation of Tiergartenstrasse 4 which itself was a shortened version of Zentral Dienststelle-T4: Central Office T4) the address from which the program was coordinated.”

These most vulnerable of humans were reportedly the first victims of mass extermination by poison gas and cheaper CO2 from automobile exhaust fumes. But first “a panel of medical experts were required to give their approval for the euthanasia/ ‘mercy-killing’ of each person.”

In the end an estimated quarter million people with disabilities were killed in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms. This model for killing disabled people was later applied to the industrialized murder within Nazi concentration and death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

Much has been written on this topic but few seem to know the chronology and diabolical history of how these “beneficial cleansings” of undesirables often start. The Nazi’s enlisted medical doctors to provide them with a veneer of moral justification for their atrocities.

Throughout history, authoritarian political despots have also worked diligently to silence dissent and co-opt religion in order to assist in their mutual quests for total control and dominance of others. And theocrats are convinced their particular splinter of a schism is the ultimate authority on earth as well as the entire universe. Stonings, beheadings and the hanging of transgressors and non believers are arbitrarily justified by interpretations of their particular holy book.

There is much to fear when politicians exploit the religious beliefs of medical professionals in order to pass laws denying the rights of others to control their own bodies. This blatant pandering for votes by promising to deliver on religious wedge issues creates a positive feedback loop resulting in politicians being deified by their religious influencers. This is aided by a campaign of rationalization absolving them of their obvious failings. Such a campaign of apologetics by religious leaders is active and widespread in America as I type. 

Examples include “God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called” (Exodus Chapter 4) and “God calls imperfect men to do His perfect will.” Is there even a red line where such “imperfect men” becomes an existential threat? Apparently not. I’m sure most citizens of the Third Reich didn’t think so until everything imploded.

The current Republican candidate for President is on the record as being a believer in the “racehorse theory” – the idea that selective breeding can improve a country’s performance, which American eugenicists and German Nazis used in the last century to buttress their goals of racial purity. On September 18, 2020 he told a mostly white crowd of supporters in Bemidji, Minn. “You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it? Don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”

This is one of many such statements he has made regarding genetics that has resulted in his personal superiority and that of his family. The New York Times reports “Mr. Trump was talking publicly about his belief that genetics determined a person’s success in life as early as 1988, when he told Oprah Winfrey that a person had ‘to have the right genes’ in order to achieve great fortune.”

These statements combined with those “about undocumented immigrants poisoning the blood” of America should equate to a 100 alarm fire.


4 Responses to “What is the history behind Trump’s “Racehorse Theory?””

  1. Laureen Summers
    March 19th, 2024 @ 1:13 pm

    A racehorse I can never be…..I am getting so weary of folks who display their deep insecurities by targeting those who appear so different from what they learned, saw and was probably forced to believed about human beings, as young ones. I have cerebral palsy, certainly with its share of challenges. But I can rearrange a ‘normal’ lifestyle with the help of technology and other accommodations, to achieve a life of creativity and adventure. This is what I say about any disability and…..we all need to be at the table in figuring out the best ways to challenge ableism and the figurative attack on our magnificent bodies.

  2. Mike Magee
    March 19th, 2024 @ 7:27 pm

    So wonderful to hear your voice, and benefit from your sage advice. As always, I value you greatly!
    Best, Mike

  3. Will Kennedy Smith
    March 22nd, 2024 @ 10:50 am

    The story of the United States is the story of the gradual often painful expansion of what it means to be fully human and deserving of god given rights. White men, then blacks, then women literally fought to secure the dignity and protections afforded human beings. People with disabilities are the latest and last to be embraced as part of the human race. From the eugenics movement of the last century, to institutionalization, exclusion and marginalization, the only way to explain the treatment of this group of people as a massive failure to recognize common humanity. At a time when the candidate of a major party is openly talking about groups of people as “not human” if is important that Randy and Mike stand up and point out this history and the fact that when we allow ourselves to be blinded to humanity it never stops with one group. Everyone of us is vulnerable. Thanks Randy and Mike. My Mother would be so grateful and proud.

  4. Mike Magee
    March 22nd, 2024 @ 12:20 pm

    THANKS, Will, for your deep insights and labor over many years for disabled and marginalized patients. Your mother’s commitment and decades of service on behalf of freedom and peace remain deeply embedded in many of us who had the opportunity to work at her side. Most memorable for me is the pride she expressed in her son and his dedication to the health and welfare of so many patients over so many years. Best, Mike

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