Identity politics will trump race-baiting in 2020


When he faced setbacks in the fight for civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. would often say “The arc of history bends slowly but it bends towards justice.” President Obama would often refer to King’s comment in the tough days of his presidency. Americans liked to think King’s optimism was well placed but now they have reason to question whether his hopes were real.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the race-baiting of the last century has again reared its ugly head. America has regressed from dog-whistle racism, when racism was innuendo, to blatant race-baiting. 

“The Squad” is the president’s latest racial punching bag.

Exhibit No. 1 is President Trump’s recent racial rants on Twitter toward a quartet of Democratic non-white, female members of the House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Talib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president told them all to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” even though the first three aforementioned women were born in the U.S. and Omar is a naturalized American citizen. 

The president followed up his racist twitter rants with a speech in North Carolina. He targeted “The Squad” again. He focused his attack on Omar who was born in Somalia but is now an American citizen. The crowd piled on Trump’s attacks on her by chanting “send her home.”

Later the president decried the chant even though he goaded the crowd into it, stopped his speech and stepped back from the podium to give his supporters the time and space to vent their spleen. 

This, of course, is not the first time the president has indulged in his favorite past time. He described Mexican migrants as rapists and drug dealers. He called African nations “shithole countries.” Trump has established what Ocasio-Cortez describes as “concentration camps” on the Mexican border to detain migrants fleeing danger in Central America.

Like it or not, demography is destiny and the destiny of the United States is diversity.

The United States is slowly but inexorably becoming a majority-minority nation. The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that America will be majority non-white by 2044. Some white Americans can’t deal with these changes in status, culture and society. Trump and his supporters are fighting a doomed rear-guard action to stop these changes and roll back the clock to the 1950s when segregation reigned supreme. They can’t win the fight to stop time in its tracks, but they can slow the process of racial harmony and disrupt American society. This fight won’t stop the clock from ticking but will lead to a GOP limping down the road, as the party becomes the lily-white party in a nation of color.

Race-baiting is identity politics’ evil twin.

Who stands to benefit politically from Trump’s terrible Twitter attacks? Every action has a reaction. It isn’t a coincidence that the members of “The Squad” are all women of color. Trump goes out of his way to beat up on women and minorities.

That brings us to Sen. Kamala Harris of California, one of the Democratic candidates for president. Harris is one of only four of the Democratic hopefuls who consistently polls in double digits in the nomination fight. She is not only female but also has a black and Asian heritage. About 60 percent of the Democratic primary voters will be women and a quarter will be black. Trump is setting up Kamala Harris for success.

Identity politics will trump race-baiting in 2020. Democrats, in general, will benefit from the president’s low blows as they did in the 2018 midterm elections. Last year, the president tried to whip his base into a frenzy by painting a picture of a massive caravan of immigrants heading to the United States to rape and pillage.

Trump’s mid-term race-baiting was a dismal failure. The president’s racial demagoguery was a disaster and Democrats picked up enough seats to win a big majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump’s effort will backfire next year as it did last year.

Recent events have demonstrated that something is stinking in the party of Lincoln

The GOP, like Marty McFly from Back to The Future, has gone back into the ‘50s. Trump is the bully Biff (a character actually based in part on Trump.)

The party has added red-baiting to race-baiting into the political mix. Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee described “The Squad” as the “Red Army.” Race-baiting and red-baiting used to work for Republicans but that was then, and this is now. Now the Soviet Union is dead as a doornail and most Americans reject bigotry.

The GOP refuses to acknowledge what is obvious to most Americans. Only four members of the Republican Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to condemn Trump’s racial rant. Two out of every three Americans (68 percent) in a new survey by USA Today think the president’s statements were “offensive” but almost everybody who identifies themselves as a Republican endorses them. Soon, Trump crowds will be chanting segregationist former Alabama Gov. George Wallace was right. The official newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan has already endorsed Trump for re-election.

Why is Trump appealing to the KKK? The answer is simple. Trump, like Wallace, he is a racial demagogue. Everything Trump does from race-baiting to bashing women is an effort to jack up his base, which he hopes will do what it did in 2016 and elect him president. His base efforts worked in 2016 because the Democratic base did not turn out for Hillary Clinton.

2020 will be different because Trump’s efforts to rally the GOP base have already activated the young and non-white Democrats to vote next year. The power of identity politics will decimate racial hate. Trump is a snake oil salesman reawakening Wallace’s brew of hate and racism. Americans won’t buy it in 2020. 

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Deadline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.

Tags 2020 election Ayanna Pressley Brad Bannon Demographics Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Identity politics Ilhan Omar Kamala Harris race-baiting Racism Tom Emmer

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