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.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10863104
Hinds10705207
Harrison7624114
Jackson6774131
Rankin6303114
Lee557798
Madison5311112
Forrest405587
Jones388589
Lauderdale3754149
Lafayette347358
Washington3421108
Lamar310350
Lowndes265168
Oktibbeha262763
Bolivar254686
Panola243754
Neshoba2333124
Marshall229451
Leflore216492
Monroe216278
Pontotoc213631
Lincoln203267
Sunflower198156
Warren189559
Tate187251
Union179626
Copiah176141
Pike170860
Pearl River168170
Itawamba166637
Scott166030
Yazoo164441
Alcorn161529
Coahoma160044
Prentiss159034
Simpson156954
Grenada149545
Adams148852
Leake146244
George138326
Covington137642
Holmes136861
Tippah135230
Winston134326
Hancock132842
Wayne127424
Attala126836
Marion126548
Tishomingo116444
Newton114929
Chickasaw112632
Tallahatchie101227
Clay98527
Clarke96954
Jasper90023
Stone85115
Calhoun82413
Montgomery80726
Walthall80430
Carroll78115
Lawrence76814
Smith76516
Yalobusha75728
Noxubee74817
Perry70127
Greene66023
Tunica64019
Amite61815
Jefferson Davis60818
Claiborne59716
Humphreys56119
Benton51018
Quitman5107
Kemper50019
Webster49514
Wilkinson42522
Jefferson39012
Franklin3866
Choctaw3757
Sharkey33517
Issaquena1254
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 264199

Reported Deaths: 3831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson35310515
Mobile20626372
Madison14521153
Tuscaloosa13897173
Montgomery12844246
Shelby1127878
Baldwin9501138
Lee807167
Morgan740555
Etowah704870
Marshall695358
Calhoun6939126
Houston559140
DeKalb521843
Cullman490650
St. Clair466557
Limestone462446
Lauderdale452257
Elmore440070
Walker3914112
Talladega386157
Jackson373523
Colbert347948
Blount323146
Autauga294542
Franklin265534
Coffee260023
Dale247355
Dallas236832
Chilton235445
Covington234834
Russell23433
Escambia208832
Tallapoosa192692
Chambers189154
Clarke165422
Pike165215
Marion150236
Winston146325
Lawrence139936
Pickens129720
Geneva12929
Marengo127824
Bibb127038
Barbour121729
Butler121142
Cherokee108224
Randolph108022
Fayette102216
Hale102132
Clay95527
Washington94222
Henry9097
Monroe85311
Lowndes82930
Cleburne80914
Macon77522
Crenshaw73830
Lamar7348
Conecuh73215
Bullock71120
Perry7037
Wilcox65918
Sumter60122
Greene45818
Choctaw43620
Coosa3854
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