This is just so bad and inexcusable, no matter how misguided you feel someone’s policy priorities may be:
Wanna bet at some point he says this was all a joke or “sarcastic”? That’s why while we generally have a rule never to write a column that’s simply a reaction to an incendiary Trump Tweet. Obviously, we’re breaking the rule today.
Lots of people are spending a lot of time speculating about whom specifically Trump is referring to, since Trump himself doesn’t specify: running down all the Democratic members of Congress born outside the U.S., and also those born inside the U.S. who irk Trump the most (and probably not coincidentally, are women and people of color and sometimes Muslim.) No one did this better than Aaron Blake in the Washington Post. (Who knew that there are 5 Democrats in Congress who were born overseas? But Trump probably has never even heard of Stephanie Murphy or Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. So it’s pretty easy to winnow it down to a few highly visible people who’ve really made waves since coming to Washington after the midterms.)
But that’s also all an unnecessary distraction. Even if the only person Trump is referring to is Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia, that’s enough.
For the simple reason that she is an American. Because, in case Trump was successfully jumbling things up even a little, you have to be an American citizen for years in order to qualify to get elected to Congress. It’s all part of the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution we talked about so much last week. And Trump is also trying to conflate border arrests and deportations with a certain type of Representative, who he’s essentially just calling another one of “them”. We think some decent popularity poll numbers have gone to his head a bit, which were mostly the result of the fact that he didn’t get the U.S. into a war in Iran (yet) and he put on a nice show on the 4th of July. But maybe he’s also got his notion its also because people like his border policy. And that one we’re not so sure about.
So we just say “no” to Conservative pundits and just generally misguided individuals who are opining somewhat widely on Twitter and elsewhere that while what Trump is saying is despicable, it’s also clever.
Yes, a big part of Trump’s message has been a lot of people in government, in Congress, in the F.B.I. (the list goes on), don’t “love our country”, because they don’t love him. And that’s worked for him among his supporters. Still, that doesn’t make this salvo an obvious or in any way sane way to extend that theme. (Even though Trump later tried to throw it more into that gear: making it about people who hate “our Country” and hate Israel, and call Nancy Pelosi a “racist”, just like him.)
And yes, there’s been a lot of reporting on a rift between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some of the newly elected, more progressive (perhaps even more radical) members of her party, mostly women, mostly people of color. And that had given some impression of disarray within the Democratic Party. And that’s also worked for Trump because as we’ve contended many times, part of Trump’s game is convincing voters the “other side” is even crazier than he is. Still, this doesn’t shine a brighter spotlight on either feuding among Democrats or policy proposals from the Progressive wing of the party. It just turns the spotlight back on Trump.
So it comes down to two questions: is this what white people in this country want to hear? At least enough of what it’ll take to vote Trump into office again? And even if that’s not the case, does even this latest serving of bile run any risk of having a lasting impact on the President? Because ultimately those are the only key questions if one’s aim is to help gain Trump a second term, or make him an ex-President and fast.
Because now there’s no question anymore that Trump’s racist, and strongly endorses the supremacy of white people’s ideas and aspirations, by degrading the ideas and aspirations of all others. Of course we’ve known this all along. But does coming out and asserting this as fact get him another win? Is it, as Peter Baker in the New York Times suggests, a way of newly “finding ways to appeal to the resentments of white Americans“? Or is it, as Charles Blow suggests, a reflection of, and an appeal to a fear of multiculturalism, in a country that is undeniably multicultural? (And it’s one of our biggest damn strengths dammit! And we include Trump supporters in that!) In a world that’s increasingly global, which is something else Trump doesn’t want to admit that has strong racial overtones (see: “shithole countries“).
But we’re not that hopeless yet. We think maybe this does skew decisively against Trump, yes. (But sadly, not irreparably yet.) There’s a good chance this will have more of a negative than positive impact compared to anything he’s said before. Because while some Trump supporters are yelling similar things as he just said at random people in malls and coffee shops (and always have, just now more), most Americans are decent people. At least that’s what we believe. And recognize uncivil and unacceptable behavior in public when they see it. And unless Trump is truly echoing a widespread hatred that courses through the boiling blood of a divided American society now more than most of us ever imagined possible, decent people will draw a red line somewhere.
Or maybe we are just naive. We’ll see…