GOP congressman defends Trump's ad

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) defends President Trump's proposal to enable stronger borders ahead of the midterm elections.

Posted: Nov 5, 2018 9:07 AM
Updated: Nov 5, 2018 9:07 AM

"It's the economy, stupid." That famous phrase, coined by James Carville, one of Bill Clinton's strategists, was Clinton's guiding principle in his 1992 campaign to unseat President George H.W. Bush. This slogan reminded Clinton that the best way to win that election was to talk about the economy, since that issue moved voters. And it worked.

Flash forward to the 2018 midterm election and Donald Trump's guiding principle can be best summed up as, "It's the racism, stupid." Trump is playing on his supporters' worst fears of brown immigrants to scare them to the polls. And to be clear, talking about immigration policy isn't inherently racist, but fabricating lies to gin up fears of Latino immigrants is -- and that's exactly what Trump is doing.

For example, for the past few weeks, Trump has been ratcheting up the hysteria about the caravan of migrants who are making their way north from Latin America in search of a better life. Trump has dubbed this caravan an "invasion of our country" that's filled with "Gang Members and some very bad people." In reality, there's little evidence to support that the caravan is filled with dangerous people.

Just days ago, Trump said he could order up to 15,000 US troops to the border, making it seem like the caravan was rapidly approaching. He conveniently has left out that the caravan is nearly 1,000 miles from the US border and won't arrive for weeks.

And, on Wednesday, Trump released a video featuring an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who killed two US police officers. In the video, he blames the Democrats for this man's crimes. The ad has rightly been slammed as racist. Fact checkers have also pointed out that it was full of lies, such as the claim the killer entered the country under a Democratic administration when, in fact, he last entered the United States under the George W. Bush administration.

Many ask why Trump isn't focused on the economy given the solid economic numbers. Trump addressed that very issue Friday at his rally in West Virginia, saying: "They all say, 'Speak about the economy, speak about the economy." Adding, "Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. But sometimes it's not as exciting to talk about the economy."

In reality, the economy isn't boring to Trump. This is a guy who loves to brag about positive economic numbers, as he did on Twitter on Friday and again on Saturday. In July, Trump even held a press conference to tout the quarterly GDP report that had just been released, declaring that it was "amazing" and "historic."

The real reason Trump is not focused on the economy is because he knows his base very well and gets two big things about them. First, economically speaking, they're unlikely doing much better -- if at all -- since he took office. And two, fearmongering about immigrants energizes them.

Now if Trump were giving a speech to his wealthy friends at his exclusive country club, there's little doubt he'd focus on economic numbers, because the rich have greatly benefited from the Trump and GOP tax cut. But it's a different story for working-class Americans. Almost two-thirds of Americans say they haven't seen any increase in wages as a result of the GOP tax cut. And when you factor in rising inflation, workers have only seen wages rise a paltry 0.8% in the past year. Gas prices alone have climbed over 30% since 2017, which can take a real bite out of working- and middle-class spending power.

How can Trump try to energize voters by telling them the economy is great when they don't have more money to spend? Trump gets that, so he's reverting back to playing on white anxieties regarding the browning of America -- which I like to refer to as racism. Or, for those who prefer the more academic term, fear of losing status.

But Trump didn't need an academic study to tell him that many supported him in 2016 because they felt "a threat to their group's dominance in our country over all," as one political science professor explained it to the New York Times.

That's why Trump's policies are largely designed to keep America white -- from his proposal to build a wall to clamping down on legal immigration (ending "chain migration") and even his early call for a total and complete Muslim ban, which likely helped him win the election. In fact, Trump tried to combine both anti-Latino racism with anti-Muslim bigotry last week when he claimed that there were "Middle Easterners" in the caravan, though he later acknowledged there was no evidence to support that.

And Trump's racist appeal appears to be working, as new CNN polls show that GOP voters are increasingly ranking immigration as the top issue. For example, in Arizona, 50% of GOP likely voters say immigration is the most important issue, up from 35% in September.

The big question is will Trump's appeal to racism excite enough people to vote Republican come Election Day? If it does, unfortunately for America, that means we can expect Trump to double and even triple down on using racism in the 2020 election.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35419

Reported Deaths: 1230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds290851
DeSoto190019
Madison144638
Jones120349
Harrison113616
Rankin108715
Neshoba104577
Forrest99343
Lauderdale96381
Scott81915
Jackson77519
Washington72213
Copiah65315
Leake63520
Lee61222
Oktibbeha61128
Grenada5949
Warren59421
Holmes58641
Wayne56218
Yazoo5536
Lowndes54813
Lamar5347
Leflore53156
Lincoln52935
Pike49920
Lafayette4974
Sunflower4778
Monroe45635
Panola4486
Covington4355
Bolivar40518
Simpson3933
Attala38424
Newton37510
Tate35213
Adams35120
Pontotoc3466
Marion32712
Claiborne30111
Chickasaw29719
Winston29511
Pearl River28832
Noxubee2788
Jasper2776
Marshall2773
Walthall2627
Clay25811
Union25211
Smith24612
Clarke22325
Coahoma2226
Lawrence2092
Yalobusha2079
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18111
Montgomery1713
Calhoun1645
Humphreys16310
Itawamba1468
Tippah14511
Hancock14413
Webster13411
Jefferson1263
Tunica1233
Jefferson Davis1204
Prentiss1204
George1163
Greene11310
Amite1103
Alcorn1002
Quitman991
Wilkinson989
Tishomingo971
Perry874
Choctaw754
Stone742
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton460
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
Elmore102920
Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
Cullman5716
Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
Conecuh2308
Bibb2211
Macon2159
Choctaw21212
Greene1959
Henry1533
Washington1418
Crenshaw1273
Lawrence1250
Cherokee1237
Geneva960
Lamar871
Clay852
Fayette821
Coosa651
Cleburne421
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