Tapper: Trump pushing campaign of fear

CNN's Jake Tapper says the racially charged ad tweeted by President Trump ahead of the midterm elections is "fueling the fire" of division in the US.

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 1:41 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 2:07 PM

Donald Trump's tweet of a racially inflammatory ad, days before the midterm elections, illustrates that the President and the Republican Party are long past dog whistles.

The ad features at least three villains: Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported Mexican immigrant found guilty of killing two police officers; an unidentified group of immigrants crashing through borders; and the Democratic Party, which the ad accuses of eagerly inviting angry, dangerous and violent immigrant hordes into the country.

Welcome to Trump's version of American nationalism.

The commercial tweeted by the President virtually pours kerosene on the already raging flames of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that has helped fuel Trump's political rise and helped maintain his base of support. According to reporting by The Washington Post and The Sacramento Bee, it's also based on a series of falsehoods spun out to demonize the Democrats.

Thirty years ago, Lee Atwater, the campaign manager of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush's faltering presidential campaign, unleashed the infamous Willie Horton attack ad portraying Democratic presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis as a weak-on-crime liberal who allowed a black criminal to rape and assault a white couple while on a weekend furlough from prison.

The tactic proved brutally effective, smearing Democrats as purveyors of urban violence and chaos, stereotyping black men as dangerous criminals, and influencing all subsequent Democratic presidential nominees' stances on the death penalty and criminal justice policies -- which in turn helped produce our contemporary crisis of mass incarceration. The fallout from the ad proved to be a watershed, transforming the name of a once-obscure black man into a verb.

Future politicians all vowed never to let anyone "Willie Horton" them. In fact, candidate Bill Clinton so feared being "Willie Hortoned" four years later that he personally flew to Arkansas to oversee the death sentence of a black defendant to prove his bona fides to white voters who remained skeptical of the Democratic Party's ties to civil rights and racial justice advocacy.

The Republicans took the White House after the 1988 election at the cost of the party's anti-slavery roots. The once-proud party of Lincoln, having weathered the racial storms brought on by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, could not survive the nakedly racist appeals of the Horton ad. Atwater's promise to turn Horton into Dukakis' running mate succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and long past his change of heart while stricken with terminal cancer and dying at the age of 40.

Willie Horton transformed American politics. Like a racist apparition rising from the fever dream of a Reconstruction-era racial segregationist, Horton played upon longstanding and historic racial fears and anxiety about black violence, criminality and sexuality. The image of Horton's scowling mug shot juxtaposed against a picture of Dukakis lent visual evidence to the era's criminalization of the entire black community.

Less than a quarter of a century after the passage of major civil rights and voting rights legislation of the 1960s, the Horton ad also represented an assault on a rising black middle class and elites determined to gain their share of the American dream. Jesse Jackson's stirring presidential runs in the 1984 and 1988 Democratic primaries, where he garnered millions of votes in campaigns that anticipated the Obama coalition's political success, challenged the myth that the nation would never elect a black president.

Atwater's tactics, once considered politically extreme by Republicans, have now become the standard political appeal for the GOP. Where past Republican presidents hid behind political consultants and campaign managers, Trump remains an unapologetic pied piper of racial division.

Trump's tweet follows on the heels of the President's order to increase the military presence on America's southern border to confront an immigrant caravan he's characterized as nothing less than an "invasion."

The President has also claimed, erroneously according to legal experts and elected officials from both parties, that he can and will end the 14th Amendment's conferring of birthright citizenship on any person born on American soil.

A President who rode to unimagined political heights demonizing a panoramic group of Americans and immigrants has now embraced an ad that is the visual equivalent of the toxic rhetoric and anti-human policy measures that have marked his administration. We know the reason why he did it: It wins elections and helps him maintain his narcissistic grip on power.

How he did it represents a larger cautionary tale for our entire democratic system. Three decades ago forces in the GOP determined that they needed to expand the political strategy that ushered in the Nixon and Reagan administrations to maintain power. They did so at the cost of their own political souls and in the process opened up a racial Pandora's box that this nation has been struggling to close ever since.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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