Aug. 21, 2018 – As expected, yesterday’s White House celebration of ICE and CBP was an overtly political rally. It neatly captured Trump’s midterm strategy: inject race, immigration and “us vs. them” appeals at every opportunity. The purpose is threefold: 1) to excite white grievance voters in the GOP base; 2) to keep the focus off the terrible Republican record on kitchen table issues; and 3) to distract from the simple fact that the main beneficiaries of the unified Republican control of the federal government has been the super rich, not the average Joe.
This is dangerous, cynical and pathetic.
In addition to President Trump’s offensive, “speaks perfect English” remark (in reference to a CBP agent of Latino heritage, who joined him at the lectern), the lowlights of yesterday’s pep rally included a string of attacks on Democrats and immigration from President Trump, including:
their radical policies are the ultimate injustice, hurting innocent Americans and spilling innocent blood…We will never surrender our nation to the forces of anarchy and chaos and crime…Blue wave means crime, it means open borders. Not good.
The “divide and distract” midterm strategy on display yesterday implicates the entire Republican Party. As an example, the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel tweeted last night, “Today I saw GOP immigration/pro-ICE attack ads that are running in North Dakota and Montana, two states where there is no record whatsoever of MS-13 activity.”
We should not be surprised. Stephen Miller signaled to Breitbart this spring that Republicans were going to make immigration a top issue in the runup to the 2018 elections. But it’s not just the Miller wing of the GOP that’s embracing the “divide and distract” strategy. An analysis of midterm TV ads by the Cook Report, which relies on CMAG/Kantar Media data, finds more than 65,000 immigration-related ads aired by Republican candidates or GOP-leaning groups since January of this year – making it one of the top three topics. Of note, this includes a recent barrage of ugly immigration attack ads in contested House and Senate races produced by super PACs affiliated with Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
From yesterday’s ugly White House political rally to the ongoing fear mongering in GOP ads across the country, the Republicans are determined to make the midterms a referendum on immigration. This strategy is about more than ‘base turnout.’ It’s a desperate effort to race-bait and stoke fear in an attempt to draw attention away from the terrible record of a GOP in control of all the branches of the federal government. Their ‘accomplishments?’ A massive tax cut that lines the pockets of their donors, does nothing to increase the wages of workers, and threatens Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, they’ve managed to wreck healthcare, defund education and pit Americans against each other.
It’s a cruel and cynical strategy aimed at polarizing the electorate, throwing sand in the eyes of voters, and keeping the GOP in power. But we think most Americans are sick and tired of Trumpian and GOP divisiveness. Most Americans want leaders to bring us together, to bridge racial difference and to focus on healthcare, equal opportunity, wages and retirement security. Instead, all we get is a party in power pointing fingers, stoking divisions and blaming people of color, all in the service of obscuring what matters most to voters.
Trump can hold all the immigrant-bashing political rallies he wants, and Republicans leaders can run all the race-baiting ads they want. What the majority of Americans want is an America where justice, equality and freedom are extended to one and all, regardless of background and birthplace. Fortunately, this majority will have a chance to express itself in 77 days.