CNN debunks Trump's racially charged ad

CNN's Tom Foreman debunks a campaign video tweeted by President Trump that depicts the caravan of migrants heading toward the US from Central America as criminals.

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 6:24 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 6:55 PM

Fifty-two years ago, President Lyndon Johnson warned the nation not to be seduced by proponents of a white backlash. Less than 48 hours before the 1966 midterms, just like today, LBJ saw in the electorate a noxious mix of white anger, hatred and resentment.

Back then, the white backlash had taken form in response to the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles one year earlier as well as to an open housing bill that his administration was trying to push through Congress aimed at eliminating racism in the sale or rental of property.

Speaking to reporters at a televised news conference in Fredericksburg, Texas, on November 6, Johnson read from a prepared statement in which he explained, "I can think of nothing more dangerous, more divisive, or more self-destructive than the effort to prey on what is called 'white backlash.' I thought it was a mistake to pump this issue up in the 1964 campaign, and I do not think it served the purpose of those who did. I think it is dangerous because it threatens to vest power in the hands of second-rate men whose only qualification is their ability to pander to other men's fears. I think it divides this nation at a very critical time -- and therefore it weakens us as a united country."

Though LBJ had been a product of the South and had opposed civil rights legislation earlier in his career, he had come to fully embrace the cause of civil rights with a religious zeal, pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 while serving as Senate majority leader and then as President moving the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through the Congress.

The President, who was frustrated that the accomplishments from his Great Society were at risk in 1966, didn't hold back when speaking to the reporters. "I think that the so-called 'white backlash' is destructive, not only of the interests of Negro Americans, but of all those who stand to gain from humane and farsighted government. And those that stand to gain from humane and farsighted government is everybody. Nevertheless, there are those who try to stimulate suspicion into hatred, and to make fear and frustration their springboard into public office. Many of them do it openly. Some let their henchmen do it for them. Their responsibility is the same."

Johnson warned that, "Racism -- whether it comes packaged in the Nazi's brown shirt or a three-button suit -- destroys the moral fiber of a nation. It poisons public life. So I would urge every American to ask himself before he goes to the polls on Tuesday: Do I want to cast my vote on the basis of fear? Do I want to follow the merchants of bigotry?"

LBJ had his eye on the backlash that was taking place in many parts of the country, with special concern for Georgia, where Democrat Lester Maddox was running against Republican Bo Callaway for governor with naked appeals to angry whites. Maddox, who had received the support of the KKK, was famous for having waved a pistol at three African-American Georgia Tech students who he chased away from his whites-only restaurant, the Pickrick Restaurant, after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unfortunately, too many parts of the nation didn't listen to LBJ's warning, and we are still paying the price. The midterms -- which drew a record-high midterm turnout of 49% -- didn't go well for the administration. Although Democrats still controlled the House and Senate, Republicans had gained 47 seats in the House and three seats in the Senate. The GOP did well in Democratic bastions like Chicago, where some white, ethnic, working-class voters responded to the demagogues who warned that their property was at risk.

The conservative coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans who had blocked progress on liberal legislation since 1938, who suffered a major setback in LBJ's landslide victory in 1964, were back in full force. Conservatives also did well in state races, including Maddox who won in Georgia -- the state that today is once again ground zero for efforts to roll back the gains of civil rights through voting restrictions.

Even worse, the politics of white backlash did not disappear from the conservative landscape. The partisan appeals continued to white, protestant men, whose fear that the country was changing around them never went away. President Richard Nixon, who returned to the national landscape by campaigning on law and order for Republicans in the 1966 midterms, exploited these fears with his promises for "law and order" and a Southern Strategy that aimed to pick up formerly Democratic votes in Dixie by resisting civil rights.

During the 1980s, Republican campaign consultant Lee Atwater was a master at using this ploy, most famously with an ad in 1988 about a parole program in Massachusetts -- the home state of Democratic governor Michael Dukakis -- that allowed an African-American prisoner Willie Horton to go free for a weekend during which he escaped and later raped a woman and stabbed her husband. White backlash has continued to flare, such as with the birther campaign in 2011, where Republicans like Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the first African American president.

While the politics of white backlash have been a part of conservative politics since the 1960s, most mainstream political leaders refused to make this the centerpiece of the campaign and they pushed back against these elements of the electorate once the most heated parts of the campaign were done. They tried to build broad coalitions that revolved around issues like anti-communism and tax reductions rather than pure, undiluted hate.

Not this time. President Trump has made white backlash a defining character of his presidency.

This weekend, former President Barack Obama offered a similar warning as LBJ, arguing that the midterms were a test of the character of the nation. On Tuesday, Americans have a chance to send a strong statement, through hundreds of congressional races, that the toxic brand of backlash politics President Trump and many Republicans have peddled in the last month is not acceptable in 2018.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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