Commentary: At first Trump's openly racist tweets seemed comically stupid. Just Trump being Trump.
They are racist. U.S. law says so. Racist guys yell, “Go back where you came from!” to girls wearing hijabs. All four targets were citizens, three born here. The fourth has been a citizen longer than Melania Trump, but has a darker complexion, a refugee kid who rose to Congress. It ain't about citizenship or loyalty, but color.
The tweets seemed especially foolish. Trump attacks women's soccer forward Megan Rapinoe and helps unify UWWMT against him – then sees Dems bickering, steps in to show them what a real enemy looks like. Unifying Dems. Frightening Republican Senators from swing states.
But as Trump doubles down and Republican campaign officials ape his tone, you realize it's more serious. As the crowd at his rally enthusiastically chants “Send her back! Send her back!” like some southern lynch mob, or an early Hitler crowd, you sense that a decision has been made: we'll campaign in 2020 on racism, hatred, and insults.
Even more clearly, the constituency is white, male, preferably uneducated, and the message is that dark folks who talk funny are why our world isn't as it once was.
I think that strategy loses, ultimately. Might ratchet up fear and bring out a few more supporters; but the U.S. is changing. For my Hispanic friends who voted for Trump, will this be a bridge too far? Decent Republicans may actually speak up.
Am I deluding myself that human decency is a value for the majority of us?
Experts keep saying Trump should run on the economy; but our economic chickens may come home to dump on his campaign by mid-2020. Maybe he's taking his best chance. Hatred is always in season.
The Democrats, true to form, may help him. Democratic leaders, sure they know what's politically prudent, may again treat dissenters badly, and weaken support for the ultimate nominee. A Democratic candidate making promises that Trump's “base” abhors might push some Republicans back into Trump's camp, despite their loathing for him.
I do know that this is another critical election.
Whoever wins, the country has already lost.
Since 2016, we've lost any semblance of a neutral Supreme Court, for a long time. We've lost critical years to make our national footprint smaller and more sustainable. We've lost much of our protection from bad food, poisoned air or water, dangerous drugs, dangerous airplanes, and dishonest banks and financial advisers. Our obscene wealth inequality has deepened. The Republican War on Science won't help us crest the next big technical wave.
An extremely strident an election campaign will continue our disintegration as a society. Even if Trump loses, will Republicans learn from it? If Republicans don't lose the Senate too, we'll repair little of the damage. And if the financial consequences of Trump's carelessness and greed hit us after the election, will 2024 find voters blaming the wrong folks?
A Trump win would bring devastating economic, environmental, and political consequences. The Federalist Society owns the courts. If Trump won big, with coattails, there could be enough Republican-controlled states to call an Article 35 Convention – eliminating a lot of our freedoms and protections, and maybe letting presidents run for a third term. A new constitution drafted by Koch staffers?
The cat jumping into my lap reminds me the desert sun is low enough that I can water the vegetables. Something true!