Trump is Running an Openly Racist CampaignRoundup
tags: racism, Donald Trump, 2020 Election
Max Boot, a Post columnist, is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a global affairs analyst for CNN. He is the author of The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in biography.
All dictators and would-be dictators need enemies — the more villainous the better — to justify their seizure of power. President Trump, an aspiring authoritarian, based his 2016 campaign on fomenting fear of Mexicans and Muslims. In 2018 his midterm campaign was based on (unsuccessful) scaremongering about caravans of refugees from Central America. So how will he stampede voters into supporting him this year?
The Islamic State’s caliphate no longer exists and, because of the pandemic, the U.S. borders are closed. There are no more caravans — or immigrants of any kind — for him to inveigh against. Terrorism continues to be a problem — white supremacist violence is on the rise, and last December a Saudi gunman with al-Qaeda links killed three service members in Pensacola, Fla. — but it no longer excites the kind of attention it once did.
There are bigger things to worry about — notably, a pandemic that has killed more Americans than those who died in all of our post-1945 wars combined and has caused unemployment to rise to its highest level since the 1930s. But, even as case numbers are hitting new highs, Trump has neither the ability nor the aptitude to battle this enemy. His response amounts to a combination of wishful thinking (“I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of disappear, I hope,” he said last week) and fatalism (the White House’s new message is “Learn to live with it”).
In his Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore, Trump unveiled a new set of enemies that he prefers to battle instead until November. His supporters ignored the actual dangers they face as they packed in, mainly without masks, to listen to Trump inveigh against largely imaginary foes.
Trump warned of “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” of “angry mobs,” and of a “cancel culture” that is “driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.” He described this as “the very definition of totalitarianism” — a word he struggled to pronounce. “The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice, but in truth, it would demolish both justice and society,” he warned darkly. “Their goal is not a better America; their goal is to end America.”
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