The midterms are quickly approaching. Campaign rhetoric has been noticeably turned up. The days of Willy Horton ads seem almost quaint compared to the volatility surrounding the discourse in this election season. The stakes are high, no doubt about that. But, the strategy of fear and falsehoods in the messaging of Republican office-seekers has left even jaded reporters incredulous, and alarmed, at the length to which the President and his surrogates have gone to perpetrate outrageous lies.
From delivering a 10% middle-class tax cut before the midterms to warning about California riots in opposition to sanctuary cities; from hoards of Central Americans threatening to overwhelm our southern border to the claim that Republicans support mandatory insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, these statements are totally untethered to reality.
As Daniel Dale writes in the Toronto Star, “Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance. Democrats will end insurance protections for people with health problems. Democrats will destroy the Social Security retirement system. Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars. Democrats will abolish America’s borders. Democrats are behind the latest migrant caravan from Latin America. That caravan includes people from the Middle East.
“False, false, false, false, false, false, false.
“U.S. President Donald Trump made a brief attempt to campaign on his record of accomplishments but, as the November congressional elections approach, he has traded that shiny new positivity for the well-worn tactic that helped him win the presidency in 2016: a blizzard of fear-mongering and lies, many of them about darker-skinned foreigners.”
Stephen Collinson of CNN adds, “Trump’s tough approach has highlighted one of his most useful political assets that also makes him the most dangerous threat to the conventions of the political system in decades — his lack of shame and willingness to make brazen arguments based on lies, which most presidents would avoid.
“But the volume and vehemence of Trump’s rhetoric, and his willingness to fling explosive claims even though they are demonstrably untrue is unlike any campaign in decades.”
There is much the current administration could trumpet as good news: the economy is robust, unemployment is the lowest it has been in decades, record numbers of conservative court appointments have been made—including two Supreme Court Justices. However, the President’s discourse is not about these “accomplishments,” but about issues he knows will divide us. Perhaps nowhere will his rhetoric have a more lasting impact than in his ongoing portrayal of immigrants and their threat to white Americans of privilege. His continuing drumbeat against people of color, combined with his proud assertion that he is a “nationalist” is a blatant appeal to racially-tinged division.
His strategy is both venal and dangerous: venal because it once again plays upon the scourge of race in our country; and dangerous because, as this week’s package bombs delivered to key Trump targets demonstrate, someone will inevitably be hurt. Violence kills; support of violent behavior spreads such behavior.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Jeremy Peters from the New York Times, write, “Barely two weeks away from an election that threatens to sweep Republicans from power in the House of Representatives and dash any lingering hope of conservative immigration reform, the party, led by President Trump, is leaning more aggressively into dark portrayals of undocumented immigrants in a bid to galvanize voters.
“On Twitter, he called a traveling band of migrants making its way north from Latin America ‘Democrat Party-led’ and an ‘assault on our country.’ Later, at a rally in Montana for Matt Rosedale, the Republican candidate for Senate there, he accused his enemies of funding the caravan.
“The story of ‘the caravan,’ a long chain of Latin American migrants that makes its way north each year seeking refuge, became a sensation on the right in April (see my post at the time, here) after a smaller group made its way through Mexico and garnered widespread media attention for the first time, catching the president’s eye.’
As CNN says, “The television footage of people marching across Mexico plays directly into Trump’s rhetorical law-and-order construct of a nation under siege from outside criminal elements — no matter what the reality on the ground may be.”
It is beyond time for the President to tie words and actions to facts instead of fanciful lies that favor his ego and his misguided view of our world.