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Leading Observers: Trump Uses Racism to Attack the American Experiment as a Reelection Strategy

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Yesterday, Frank Sharry noted that racism, nativism and stoking white grievance will be the “beating heart” of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. Leading observers are making a similar assessment, recognizing that we are gearing up for a vile campaign season that will pit Trump’s turbocharged racism and xenophobia against a different and inclusive vision of America. Among the key observers and assessments include:  

  • The New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, “If Donald Trump has a theory of anything, it is a theory of American citizenship. It’s simple. If you are white, then regardless of origin, you have a legitimate claim to American citizenship and everything that comes with it. If you are not, then you don’t.”
  • David Graham in The Atlantic: “Trump’s racist Twitter attacks on Democratic congresswomen over the weekend still managed to shock, even in this benumbed age, because of his willingness and eagerness to place racism at the center of his political platform in a run for reelection to the presidency. It is not simply the employment of racist ideas for political advantage … It is the invitation to a racial conflict that pits citizen against citizen, under the calculation that racism itself is a winning strategy, that astonishes.”
  • Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson in his most recent syndicated column: “Trump is trying to make desperate, suffering people the villains of our national story… Trump wants to change not just the policy of our government, but also the character of our country, into something hard, and dark, and dishonorable, and pitiless.”
  • Columnist Goldie Taylor in The Daily Beast: “The president is a racist, in his words and his actions. Before you go clutching your pearls and extolling the virtues of ‘civility,’ let me say this: Put a sock in it … Bigotry is dangerous and, coming from our nation’s commander in chief, it can mean an inability to recognize individual humanity and a failure to act with moral authority in times of crisis.”
  • Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: “This is not, fundamentally, a battle over facts, but a clash of values…It is a battle that can be won only by uniting enough Americans of all backgrounds behind the universal ideals that can bring America closer to what it has long struggled to become, not what it once was.”
  • Eugene Robinson in his Washington Post syndicated column: “The president’s motives are obvious: He was proudly displaying his white-supremacist racial views, drawing a bright line between his aging white political base and the rest of the country, and clumsily trying to exacerbate tensions within the Democratic Party.”
  • Spanish-language daily La Opinión Editorial Board (translated): “Why don’t they go back to where they came from? is a racist expression repeated many times with hatred and anger. To this we must add the stupidity of those who say it when the insulted person is a US citizen. That is our President… This is the climate generated from the White House for reelection purposes. The 2020 campaign will be one of the most divisive that can be remembered. Resentment has been brewing for two years to reap the hatred that grows in what was once Lincoln’s party and today is Trump’s.”
  • Lawyer and Trump critic George T. Conway III’s Washington Post op-ed: “Sunday left no doubt. Naivete, resentment and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president. Trump could have used vile slurs, including the vilest of them all, and the intent and effect would have been no less clear.”
  • Syndicated columnist Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “It’s long past time to stop pretending. Studies before and after the 2016 election showed that racial animus was the primary motivation of Trump voters, even more than economic concern. Certainly, many Trump voters were motivated by the hope of tax cuts and of Supreme Court picks. But with each of Trump’s successive racist outbursts, it should become more difficult for at least some of these Republicans to stomach the white nationalism Trump promotes.”

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