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Here They Go Again: As Failures Converge, Trump and GOP Enablers Tee Up “Divide and Distract” Strategy

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They Relied on it in 2018 and it Failed

Remember the caravan hysteria? Threatened by sinking poll numbers in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump and Republicans resorted to racial incitement and fearmongering about crime, terrorism and invasion. It was a cynical and desperate attempt to divide and distract the electorate. As we said at the time:

The GOP is purposefully using a “divide and distract” strategy. Their goal is to divide Americans by “othering” immigrants and people of color in order to 1) distract voters from the horrible Republican record on kitchen table issues; and 2) draw attention away from the GOP obsession with shifting resources into the hands of the super-rich. With healthcare premiums rising, access to care jeopardized, Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, take-home pay flat, education imperiled, deficits exploding, our environment exposed, our schoolkids vulnerable, our democracy threatened and corruption rampant, turning on the fog machine of racial polarization probably seems like a no-brainer to the shameless Trump and his cowardly Republican enablers.

In 2018, the divide-and-distract strategy backfired. Badly. 

Now, as Trump faces an existential threat to his presidency and with Republicans inextricably tied to Trump, they’re at it again. Trump calls a Constitutional impeachment process a “lynching” and House Republicans storm a secure hearing room to distract from the damning testimony being given by brave patriots inside it.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:  

Get ready. With Trump and his Republican enablers desperate to distract from the President’s lawlessness, the GOP’s cowardice and their collective failures, and with little to run on except a tax cut that filled the pockets of donors while picking the pockets of ordinary Americans, get ready for them to stoke divisions and manufacture distractions. Get ready for even more anti-immigrant fearmongering, racial divisiveness, outrageous gaslighting and performative distractions. Get ready for another government shutdown over Trump’s stupid border wall (perhaps because it hasn’t reached Colorado yet!). 

As Ron Brownstein writes in a just-published piece in The Atlantic entitled, “Trump Has No Room for Error in 2020”:

…even if Trump, as he’s shown the capacity to do, can further juice turnout among non-college-educated whites, especially outside of urban areas, those gains could be offset by higher engagement among the groups that are growing in the electorate. That’s what happened last year: Working-class whites turned out at elevated levels for the midterms, but that increase was swamped by a spike in participation among college-educated whites and minorities. As a result, blue-collar whites plummeted by 4 percentage points as a share of the total vote compared with the 2014 midterms, according to calculations by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in voting behavior. That’s an unusually large decline.

Sharry added:

Get ready to denounce their relentless attempts to pit Americans against each other instead of bringing us together. Get ready for more stunts and gimmicks. Get ready to call ‘em out and turn ‘em out.

Read America’s Voice on the lessons from the 2018 midterms. President Trump, Stephen Miller and the Republicans focused near-exclusively on immigration and the migrant caravan down the homestretch, but their xenophobia backfired.