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Why Trump’s Racist Attacks Are Not Just Vile and Wrong, But a Sign of Weakness and Desperation

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Trump Enablers Tout Attacks as Brilliant Strategy

As we take stock of President Trump’s vile racism and recognize the moral depravity of his bigotry, let’s also engage in some real talk about whether “racism as an electoral strategy is going to work for him.”

After what transpired in the midterms in 2018, we are optimistic that racism and xenophobia will backfire, and badly. Following two years of experience with Trump, he American public rose up and dealt the GOP the biggest midterm setback in American history. 

Here’s what leading observers are saying about the Trump campaign spin that racism works as a savvy strategy:

Washington Post syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson writes in Trump’s escalation of racism means one thing: He’s worried about reelection: “President Trump’s decision to put away his racist dog whistle and bring out his racist bullhorn has just one plausible explanation: desperation … It overly flatters Trump to fear he’s playing three-dimensional chess or employing some kind of exotic political jiujitsu. What we’re hearing in his harangues and reading in his tweets is naked fear. And he has reason to be very afraid.”

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post had two posts yesterday on the political motivations and implications of Trump’s racism. In Trump’s new racist tweetstorm is actually a sign of weakness, Sargent writes: “As it is, Trump’s racism probably won’t end up being a net positive. It will likely keep driving away the suburban and educated whites he needs, and could alienate blue-collar white women as well. But beyond this, the fact that Trump sees the need to resort to this strategy in the first place deserves more critical attention, and less reflexive savvy. Trump certainly has a reasonable shot at winning reelection, but his latest antics project the opposite of confidence and strength.” Later in the day, marshalling new data in the latest Quinnipiac poll, Sargent writes about the drop off in support for Trump from non-college white women in a piece entitled, Blue-collar white women are turning on Trump: “This has been a Republican-leaning demographic for many election cycles now, which alone makes this seeming shift striking. More specifically, Trump’s racist attacks are all about three states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — where Trump hopes to supercharge turnout and vote share among non-college-educated whites from non-metropolitan areas, allowing him to win the electoral college, even plausibly amid a larger popular-vote loss than last time….But as Democratic pollster Greenberg told [Ron] Brownstein, this becomes a taller order if the women in that demographic are getting alienated, even if the men are as gung-ho for Trump as ever. ‘White working-class men look like they are approaching the 2016 margins for Trump,’ Greenberg allowed, but he added, ‘it only works if women are part of the story.’”

As an Associated Press story entitled, Suburban Women Recoil as Trump Dives Into Racial Politics: notes, “In more than three dozen interviews by The Associated Press with women in critical suburbs, nearly all expressed dismay — or worse — at Trump’s racially polarizing insults and what was often described as unpresidential treatment of people. Even some who gave Trump credit for the economy or backed his crackdown on immigration acknowledged they were troubled or uncomfortable lining up behind the president.”

A Washington Post analysis by Cornell University political scientists and public opinion experts, Peter K. Enns and Jonathon P. Schuldt, entitled Trump thinks racist rhetoric will help him in 2020. The data suggest otherwise: “To understand why, we must first consider that most of the discussion on Trump’s racist rhetoric focuses on the potential of this type of message to energize his base. But it’s also important to understand how the rest of the electorate responds to these tweets and statements. We find that the backlash from the president’s racist rhetoric is likely to offset any electoral benefit from Trump’s base.”

Ben Wikler, formerly of MoveOn and now the Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair, summarizes the Trump and GOP “divide and distract” strategy well, tweeting about the Republican strategy after highlighting a new tax cut proposal from Senator Ted Cruz. As Wikler notes: “This is the GOP long con in a nutshell. Trump blazes away with raw and hideous racism. Meanwhile, he and his party look for ways to ship yachtloads of cash to the super wealthy. Don’t let them get away w/ it.”