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Trump Reaches for Political Comfort Food – Stoking Racial Fear, Violence and Xenophobia. It Won’t Work

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A fearful President Trump is losing and he knows it. So he’s reaching for his political comfort food – stoking racial division and turning to anti-immigrant politics. 

Just like elections in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the American people are sick of the divisiveness and set to reject his racism and xenophobia. The majority of Americans are ready to turn the page on the Trump years. But until then, we’re in for an ugly stretch. Witness: 

  • A U.S. President Signaling for White Supremacists to Ready for Violence: During the first presidential debate, Trump not only refused to condemn white supremacy, but openly signaled for his white supremacist supporters such as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” He also reiterated his calls to have his supporters show up at voting sites, which many interpret as a call for voter intimidation.
    There’s a through line between Trump’s racism, his call to action rhetoric to white supremacists and other supporters, and past instances of real world violence like we saw in Pittsburgh and El Paso.

Meanwhile, two Washington Post stories from the past day underscore why Trump’s homestretch will again include a heavy focus on xenophobia and anti-immigrant fear mongering:

  • Leaked ICE Operations in Democratic Cities All About Generating Headlines: A Post story announces impending ICE enforcement operations in Democratic-controlled cities in California and elsewhere. This tactic is transparently designed to reinforce the Trump re-election campaign’s core messaging on scary immigrants and unrest in Democratic cities. An unnamed ICE official even admits as such in the story! As the Post notes, “Two officials with knowledge of plans for the ‘sanctuary op’ described it as more of a political messaging campaign than a major ICE operation.’” The real-world effects of any sweeping immigration raids – especially during a pandemic – are horrific to contemplate. But make no mistake that this announcement is driven by political optics and headlines. 
  • Trump’s Racist Border Wall Obsession Continues Unabated – Prepping a Campaign Stunt at Wall: A second Post story, highlights that the administration is steamrolling forward to build the failing, corrupt and racist wall. The piece notes that sections of the wall are indeed being painted black, per Trump’s wishes (painting the wall in Trump’s preferred black would cost $500 million per an earlier estimate). Trump also is planning to host a campaign photo op next month to commemorate the supposed completion of 400 miles of new border fencing – similar to last summer, when Trump went to Yuma and autographed in black Sharpie a plaque on the wall. For most of us, the wall remains a perfect encapsulation of Trump’s presidency in all its racism, corruption, lies, scandal and incompetence. 
  • Trump’s Ugly Xenophobia on Display in Recent Rallies and GOP Ads: Trump’s pre-debate campaign rallies over the weekend in Virginia and Pennsylvania included a heavy dose of xenophobia. Trump attacked refugee admissions and Rep. Ilhan Omar; touted his “beautiful” border wall; and celebrated ICE while fear-mongering over “violent criminal aliens.” Meanwhile, the Republican’s Senate Leadership Fund is out with a “new” ad in Iowa, recycling ugly past GOP and Trump attacks about “illegal immigrants.” (See AV’s 2020 ad watch website for a searchable data base of other racist, xenophobic and ‘dog whistle’ campaign ads.)

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

Trump is scared. He is trying to turn a confident, hopeful and courageous nation into a fearful, frightened one. Efforts to divide us with racism and xenophobia remain his go-tos. Unfortunately, we expect it to get worse – perhaps much worse – during the election homestretch. 

But just remember 2018. Trump nationalized the midterms, ran on xenophobia and ‘scary caravans,’ and it backfired. Democrats won the biggest midterm victory in American history. That’s because Trump’s relentless racism and nativism has forced Americans to choose. We have, and a multiracial majority stands for an inclusive and welcoming America.