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Frank Sharry: “‘Law and Order’ is the New ‘Caravans and Criminals’”

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Strategic racism didn’t work in 2018. Let’s make sure it doesn’t work in 2020.


The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director at America’s Voice, taking stock of the latest political state of play:

Much to the distress of Trump and the GOP, a powerful multiracial majority is gearing up to reject the racism and xenophobia of this president and his party. Comprising Black and White, Latino and Asian, native and newcomer, this majority wants America to act collectively to tackle big challenges — the pandemic, the economy, inequality, racial justice, and yes, immigration. 

But to do so we have to defeat Trump and his enablers. Trump is a weak leader who is relying on his go-to of strategic racism. He inflames racial and ethnic division to deflect from his epic failures in response to a once-in-century pandemic that has taken 180,000 lives. He scapegoats the ‘non-white other’ to distract from his failed response to a moment of racial reckoning 400 years in the making. He doesn’t call us to join in a crusade to realize cherished ideals. He points fingers and encourages violence. Meanwhile, his administration fills the pockets of family members, cronies and corporations. 

What to do? Let’s be confident, be clear, and punch back. Don’t let him get away with his divide-and-distract shtick. Remember the 2018 midterms, when Trump and Fox News relentlessly stoked fears of ‘caravans and criminals’ in the closing weeks. He tried to divert attention from his effort to dismantle health care and his tax cuts for the 1%. Fortunately, successful Democratic candidates across the country called out the game, stayed focused on their healthcare and wages, and proposed workable solutions on immigration. The result of this both/and approach? The largest midterm victory in history.

Well, here he goes again. ‘Law and order’ is the new ‘caravans and criminals.’ Strategic racism didn’t work in 2018. Let’s make sure it doesn’t work in 2020.

Democrats would be wise to call out Trump’s divide-and-distract antics and to stay focused on the big issues and big solutions. The majority of voters don’t want more division, hate and violence; they want leaders who bring us together to tackle and resolve the big challenges of our time: the public health crisis, economic inequality, racial injustice, immigration reform, and more. 

The priority in immigration is to undo the cruel policies of the last four years and to create processes that are fair and humane to all. Specifically, the Biden-Harris ticket has announced their priority is to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who work and live here. The 11 million are Americans in all but paperwork, and voters are ready for this long overdue breakthrough.

Let’s not let Trump exploit racism to change the subject and deflect from his failures. Let’s leave him in the rear view mirror and build the America we want – a place of liberty and justice for all.