2020-02-01 03:09:56 UTC
Trumps new racist tweetstorm is actually a sign of weakness
Trumps new racist tweetstorm is actually a sign of weakness
By Greg Sargent
July 29 at 10:20 AM
Whenever President Trump unleashes one of his racist attacks, the political
world tends to go through a now-predictable cycle. We are first told
Republicans think Trumps latest racist display is brilliant politics, a
view often pushed by Trump himself. Then gullible pundits echo that claim.
And then persistent digging by reporters shows that Republicans are
actually worried that his racism poses a serious problem for the party,
unmasking the initial confidence as false bravado.
Trump just unleashed another volley of racist tweets targeting Rep. Elijah
Cummings, after spending the weekend attacking the Maryland Democrat for
presiding over a crime-ridden and rodent infested district. This comes
after Trump spent days attacking the Squad of four nonwhite female
Once again, we are in the midst of that spin cycle, in which Trump and
Republicans insist that this attack on Cummings is brilliant politics.
As Trump put it: If the Democrats are going to defend the Radical Left
Squad and King Elijahs Baltimore Fail, it will be a long road to 2020.
Its awfully telling that Trump is linking his attacks on Cummings to his
attacks on the Squad. Trumps propagandists pretend these attacks are only
about an underlying substantive difference: Both the Squad and Cummings
have criticized Trumps cruelty toward migrants, leading White House
advisers to claim Trump is fighting back against unfair criticism.
And so, the innocent interpretation of Trumps latest is that hes just
asserting all this is good politics because this contrast on immigration
plays in his favor.
But the content of the attacks is the giveaway here. Trump told the four
nonwhite female lawmakers to go back to their crime infested countries
reprising his claim that we shouldnt want immigrants from s---hole
countries and he depicted Cummingss district as a crime-infested place
where no human being would want to live.
Yet three of those nonwhite congresswomen were born in the United States,
and Cummingss district is in the upper half in terms of median income and
includes very safe Columbia, Md. This is part of a pattern Trump also
attacked Rep. John Lewiss Georgia district as crime infested.
As Fox Newss Chris Wallace noted of this pattern: Infested. It sounds
like vermin. It sounds subhuman. And these are all six members of Congress
who are people of color. In short, Trump has basically moved back and
forth between s---hole countries and s---hole districts.
And so, when Republicans and pundits and Trump himself say his attacks
on nonwhite lawmakers constitute good politics, we all know theyre really
saying Trumps racist attacks will galvanize white voters, in particular
the blue-collar whites in Trumps base.
Putting aside the dim view of those voters this embodies, heres a follow-
up question: Why does Trump need to do this to win reelection, given his
own constant suggestion that America is winning everywhere and the Trump
economy is the greatest in U.S. history?
Republicans give away Trumps game
Some new reporting in The Post offers a clue: Republican officials
privately say this is a winner, because Trump is harnessing the anger of
those who continue to feel left behind despite the strong economy, and
channeling it by casting Democrats as socialists.
But note the implicit suggestion here that, despite the stupendous Trump
economy, non-college-educated white voters are not energized to the degree
Trump needs for his reelection campaign. Why?
Well, once in office, Trump abandoned the populist economic nationalism he
campaigned on, embracing orthodox GOP plutocracy in the form of a massive
corporate tax cut and a failed effort to roll back popular health-care
protections that benefited untold numbers in Trump country.
Meanwhile, his ineffectual trade wars are causing his own constituencies
real pain, requiring a taxpayer-funded bailout. There wont be any big
infrastructure package, and Trump and Republicans oppose the minimum-wage
hike that House Democrats just passed.
Trump loyalist Newt Gingrich recently confirmed what those Republican
officials say privately, by basically conceding that Trump is far more
interested in trying to win reelection by depicting Democrats as radical
than he is in working on the populist pro-worker agenda he campaigned on.
The former is the substitute for the latter.
Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon has also spoken to this point. He
told journalist Joshua Green that Trumps campaign populism had two
components the immigration restrictionism and the pro-worker economics
and that, by selling out on the latter, Trump risks leaving himself
Whatever the role of Trumps economic populism in his victory, whats
left behind here is the crucial fact that Trumps economic agenda isnt
energizing his base in the manner he needs. We know this due to the
admission of Republicans themselves, and its illustrated by Trumps own
fallback on racism as a galvanizer.
The media coverage of all this has mystifyingly treated it as a sign of
Trumps political savvy. This is galling on its face:
In 2016, reporters from mainstream outlets took umbrage at the very
suggestion racism was at the core of Trumps appeal. Now its conventional
wisdom, but they insist on describing it as a insurmountable tactic of
staggering political genius.
Adam Serwer?? (@AdamSerwer) July 28, 2019
But the substantive suggestion at the core of this coverage is also absurd.
You sometimes hear that Trumps attacks on the Squad cleverly distracted
from Democrats passing a minimum-wage bill.
But this is better seen not as savvy, but as a sign of weakness. The very
need to distract from the Democratic economic agenda, and the need to find
other ways to energize white voters, itself tells that story.
As it is, Trumps racism probably wont 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