Today’s must-read pieces come from Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions and Greg Sargent of the Washington Post. With Trump dominating the newscycle in recent days with his xenophobia and mendacity, Barreto cites extensive polling evidence and recent races to predict Trump’s fear mongering won’t work and Sargent challenges the political class to conclude that Trump’s worldview and agenda has been rejected by the American people should the House flip.
Barreto’s piece is excerpted below and available online here.
Over the past few weeks, on the campaign trail and at home in the White House, President Trump has made it clear that attacking immigrants is the main thrust of his midterm message. In 2016, his anti-immigrant campaign resonated with his core supporters and it may well again in 2018, but this year more people have been turned off by the reality of his anti-immigrant politics. As a result, Mr. Trump’s vile strategy is more likely to backfire this time.
Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has been escalating as Election Day nears. At every campaign rally, he unleashes on immigrants, spreading lies and fear, tweeting of the so-called caravan from Central America that “we cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country.” A few days ago in Nevada, he lied again when told a crowd that “illegal immigrants want to take over the control” of a California town. In their closing arguments, many Republican candidates are echoing Mr. Trump’s xenophobia and nativism.
Polling indicates this may not work that well in 2018 precisely because it is no longer merely campaign rhetoric. In the past two years, voters have had the chance to witness Mr. Trump’s rhetoric turn into severe anti-immigrant policies, leaving children as young as 12 months old parentless and alone in a government detention cell. He describes parents who are fleeing violence to seek asylum as “animals” and claims that violent gang members are “pouring into our country.”
Recent election results suggest that attacking immigrants no longer works with the majority that candidates need to win. Instead, a majority of Americans favor a more welcoming approach to immigrants, not divisiveness. Analysis of data from Virginia showed that the false claims of Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor in 2017, that the Central American prison gang MS-13 was threatening Virginia’s way of life moved voters away from his camp and actually made them more likely to vote for his Democratic opponent. In a special election for the House in a mostly white district in Pennsylvania, another Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, made bashing sanctuary cities central to his campaign, and he lost. Same outcome for Kim Guadagno in New Jersey, who lost the governor’s race badly while attacking immigrants. In the suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., Kevin Corlew ran a slew of anti-immigrant radio ads and lost a special election by 10 points. The list goes on.
According to a recent 2018 midterm survey of more than 2,000 registered voters in the 60 most competitive congressional districts, a majority of Americans reject Mr. Trump’s divisive rhetoric and oppose his xenophobic policies. Mr. Tump’s policy of separating children from their parents has defined him on immigration. Now he has turned his harsh attacks to a new group of Central American migrants seeking asylum. Mr. Trump tells crowds that these asylum seekers are a major security threat to the United States. They are not.
Sargent’s piece is excerpted below and available online here.
It is now becoming clear that President Trump is succeeding in saturating the media with his anti-immigrant agitprop, a goal that’s crucial to GOP hopes of holding Congress. As many have documented, the big news organizations are cranking out wall-to-wall coverage of the “caravan” of migrants traveling through Mexico, in some cases showcasing Trump’s biggest lies about it, thus hyping the sense that it presents a national emergency, which is just pure fiction of the rankest and ugliest sort.
If this is going to be the case, I have a modest request: If Republicans do lose the House, can media figures remember this coverage when assessing why that happened? If so, the broadly reached conclusion should be that the results represented a massive repudiation of Trump’s immigration agenda and, more broadly, the xenophobic nationalism that is driving it.
…Trumpism is absolutely saturating everything. Many Republicans are running ads demagoguing undocumented immigrants as criminal invaders. The airwaves and newspapers are groaning under the weight of the most Trump-friendly imagery imaginable — imagery showing massive migrant hordes moving inexorably northward toward the southern border.
All of Trump’s claims — while sometimes debunked in these accounts — are everywhere, from his assertion that Democrats who oppose further restrictions on refugee and legal immigration flows tacitly want the border overrun by swarthy hordes, to his insistence that these migrants, and immigration generally, pose such a dire threat to the country that truly draconian measures are justified in response.
If Democrats win the House, it will mean, at least in part, that not just Trump himself, but also the worldview and agenda accompanying all those lies, might have been more toxic for the American mainstream than Trump and his allies admit. If Democrats win the House, will prominent figures at the news orgs that madly hyped all this to the skies render the verdict that this worldview and agenda have been repudiated?