President Trump at a rally Wednesday night left no doubt: he intends to make a naked appeal to racism, nativism, xenophobia, and white nationalism the centerpiece of his campaign for re-election. Trump’s remarks echoed the flagrantly racist remarks he made in a series of tweets Sunday, in which he said four U.S. Representatives of color should “go back to the crime infested places from which they came.” Trump had reiterated his racist remarks in public appearances on Monday and Tuesday, in which he also rejected the growing chorus of voices labeling his remarks as racist, including the voices of some prominent Republicans.
The four congresswomen have become identified with the more far-left wing of the Democratic Party. All four are American citizens, and only one, Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, was not born in the United States.
The Republicans at Wednesday’s rally responded exactly as Trump expects all Republicans to respond to a campaign based on racism, nativism, and xenophobia: they roared their approval and shouted “leave” and “send her back.”
(For the facts defining Trump’s racism, click here).
Trump’s decision to focus on racism, nativism, and xenophobia simply shifts to the centerpiece of his campaign strategy the themes that have been key elements in his agenda since announcing his presidential candidacy in 2015. In his announcement speech, Trump famously told the Big Lie that most Mexican illegal immigrants were rapists and criminals.
Trump’s presidential campaign established the approach to winning elections he has zealously followed ever since: demagogic appeals to hate, fear, frustration, anger, and divisiveness. His standard speech in the 2018 off-year Congressional elections was a diatribe full of hate-mongering and race-baiting. He talked about Hispanic migrants the way Adolph Hitler talked about the Jews, at one point labeling them as animals.
Trump’s—and Republicans’—racist leanings reached their previous apogee when he praised neo-Nazi demonstrators marching through the streets of Charlottesville in a Nazi-like torch-light parade chanting anti-Semitic slogans.
Trump, and his Republican minions, continue to spew insults, slander, and invective, and to depict their opponents as enemies to be destroyed—not only as their enemies, but as enemies of America.
Two and one-half years into his presidency, Trump has no accomplishments to point to justify his re-election. He has no real policies or ideology, nothing positive to offer. His only major piece of legislation was a tax cut skewed heavily toward the rich, with only crumbs for average Americans—a sham and a fraud that most Americans are well aware of. He and his Republican allies proved they not only could not deliver on their promise of a major new health care system that would lower costs and provide better health—all they could do was try to use lies and demagoguery to try to destroy Obamacare. And fail at doing that.
The only record Trump can run on is one of incompetence, chaos, and producing the most corrupt administration in American history—and “defending” all that with a litany of over 11,00 lies since becoming president.
No wonder Trump has decided to make lies, racism, nativism, and xenophobia the centerpieces of his re-election campaign. In IndieDems view, you can add sexism, too.
And Republicans are clearly poised to join wholeheartedly in his effort. Only a very few Republicans have explicitly condemned his racist words against the congresswomen. Many have dodged the issue by stating the flat falsehood that Trump was simply denouncing liberal extremism or people who “hate” America—when Trump’s words were flagrantly racist.
Some Republicans have done their usual verbal knuckle-rapping by saying something like “I would not have put it that way.” (We call it “pulling a Paul Ryan.”) And no doubt some Republicans are simply sniveling cowards—they are appalled at what Trump is doing, but are too scared of him to speak out against him.
In sum, the vast majority of Republicans either endorse Trump’s racism or are willing to tolerate it. Trump’s North Carolina rally is likely to be a harbinger of things to come: Trump will continue to spew his racist, nativist, xenophobic, white nationalist demagoguery, the Republican base will swoon in adoration, and Republican politicians will rally behind his extremist agenda—like Nazis rallied behind their Der Fuhrer.