A Window Into Trump's 2020 Strategy

Image: Reuters

Image: Reuters

Amid a crowd of his own supporters chanting “send her back” about a naturalized U.S. citizen, the president of the United States stood proudly, doing nothing to stop the chant. In fact, he waited for the chant to die down before starting to speak again. This should scare everyone. It should scare you because Ilhan Omar, the U.S. representative the chant was aimed at has lived in the U.S. since she was 10 years old, and is still seen as a foreigner. It should scare you because the president is toying with racist rhetoric. It should scare you because the president of the United States not only did not stop the chants, but was the one who inspired them. In a series of tweets directed at four U.S. representatives who are all women of color, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, Donald Trump told them essentially, to go back and fix the countries they came from, before giving ideas on how to fix the U.S. All the targeted representatives were born in the U.S., except Omar who has been a naturalized citizen since she was 17. Trump definitely knows that all of these representatives are U.S. citizens, but that doesn’t matter to him. His campaign in 2016 focused on pointing out the differences among us, and it seems like he is going to use this same strategy for the 2020 campaign.

These tweets are obviously racist, there is no disputing it. The president told 4 U.S., women of color, citizens to go back to the countries they came from. Trump basically said “you guys don’t look like what I think the U.S. to be, white, so you don’t belong here.” In order to defend his tweets Trump said the tweets were not racist, he was just telling these congresswomen that if they don’t like this country they can leave. Trump supporters echo his words in order to defend the tweets. This narrative of “love it or leave it” is also extremely damaging to our country, that was founded on the idea of freedom of thought. Accusing people who disagree with you of hating the country is fundamentally un-American. However, if this was just a “love it or leave it” scenario, why hasn’t Trump told the same thing to the hundreds of white people who criticize him? During his 2016 campaign Trump’s own message was “America is bad and we need to make it great again”. Let’s not kid ourselves. Trump would not have told the Congresswomen to go back to the countries they came from if they were white. The tweets were racist, and Trump knows this.

Trump knows exactly what he is doing. He’s not “accidentally” saying racist things, it’s all part of his strategy to win in 2020. The fact of the matter is he can’t win using the strong economy in the places where is base is the strongest, middle America, since the economy is not improving there. Yes, the U.S. economy is the best it has been since the 2008 recession, but only for metropolitan centers, not the rural parts of the country where growth has stagnated. If Trump wants to keep this base he knows he must go the race route. The middle Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 believe immigrants are mostly to blame for their economic troubles, rather than the fact they have very few industries and the world is moving towards technology rather than agriculture. They believe the immigrants are taking jobs away from them, which is an extremely unfounded fear but, nevertheless, persists. Trump capitalizes on this fear, and this demographic believes they are finally being seen. In order to win the 2020 election Trump must use this fear again if he wants to win, and he knows this. Therefore, painting the “Squad” (what the four congresswomen are known as) as the face of the Democratic party and then proceeding to paint them as hating this country and different from “real” Americans is a strategic move. Trump’s base sees the Squad, who hold relatively extreme views in comparison to other Democrats, supposedly hate this country, and don’t look like “Americans”, as the entire Democratic party and causing right-leaning independents and unconvinced Republicans to refuse to vote for them in 2020, giving Trump the victory, while also firing up his base and securing their vote.

In order to keep the ambivalent Republicans, who are on the fence about his inflammatory rhetoric, on his side Trump claims the tweets were not racist, and apologized for the “send her back” chant claiming he had no part in it and stopped it quickly (a blatant lie), and the Republicans buy it. Not because they necessarily believe these lies, but because they want to believe them. They want to stay on the good side of the president, despite knowing he appeals to the racist population in this country. Whether Trump is truly a racist or not doesn’t really matter, although looking at his past he seems to be one. Trump is knowingly using racism and racists in this country and appealing to them in order to win an election, and I believe that is worse than truly being a racist. Racism affects the lives of people of color in this country daily, and for the president to use it as a strategic move in order to win a campaign is truly despicable and should make every American furious. The president should denounce racism unequivocal, not toy with it and manipulate it to his benefit. This should spark national outrage, yet the majority of Republicans stay silent, and this is terrifying. Being a witness to injustice and staying silent is just as bad as perpetuating the injustice. Republicans must get over their party ties and speak out against this president, or his racism will just get worse, further emboldening racists in this country. 

There are two types of Trump supporters in this country, those who are racist and blame their problems on immigrants and those who are silent and ignore blatant racism, and to be honest I don’t know which is worse. To the Trump supporters who are racist and think immigrants are the reasons for their problems, immigrants aren’t the reason for your problems. Trump does not care about you and will do nothing to help you. He is using you to win the presidency and that’s it. The economy is not improving in rural America, and Trump will not fix that. He wants to reign you in through capitalizing on your fears so you vote for him in 2020, and then he will do nothing to help you, as he has done these past 4 years. Don’t give in to his plan. Don’t give him the vote he thinks he has. It will not benefit you. And to the Trump supporters who ignore this presidents racism and ignore it when he says things like “go back to your country”, speak up. You know what he says is wrong, whether you want to admit it or not. This country is more important than your partisanship. Trump goes against everything this country hopes to be. Stop allowing the president to use racism to further his own goals, and hold him accountable. The good of this country is more important than your perceived party loyalties. To Republican Congressmen who haven’t spoken out it is your duty to do what is best for this country, and this president’s behavior is clearly what is not best for this country, so speak up and don’t allow this to continue.

As for the rest of us, we must keep speaking out against this president, and not let the rest of the country forget exactly what this president, a lying demagogue who uses hate and racism to win elections.

Sneha Jos Comment