Mellman: The strategy of Donald Trump's racism

Mellman: The strategy of Donald Trump's racism
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As you might imagine, I have some pretty serious disagreements with “the squad” on issues of real importance (at least to me). 

But no policy differences could justify Donald Trump’s disgusting, racist, go-back-where-you-came-from diatribe.

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Indeed, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE initially cited no issue differences. It was straight out, inexcusable bigotry and xenophobia.   

Trump’s outburst, together with the weekend’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, afford us a useful opportunity to reexamine public views on immigration, which perhaps ironically, have become more liberal during Trump’s reign.

A clear 59 percent majority of Americans think immigrants make our country stronger, while only 34 percent see them as a burden.

Canada, Australia and the U.K. have even more positive attitudes toward immigrants, but a number of nations, including Greece, Hungary, Italy and South Africa are much less positive about the impact of immigration.

In the U.S., positive assessments of immigration are higher since Trump’s election than at any time since Pew started asking the question in 1994.

On this issue, as with others, it seems some Americans have decided that if Trump believes something, they better believe the opposite. 

Millennials and Gen Xers lead the way in positive sentiments about immigration, while their elders lag behind. 

Over two-thirds believe “America’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation.” Only about a quarter say, “If America is too open to people from around the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation.”

In a nutshell, 76 percent think immigration is a good thing, while just 19 percent see it as a negative. 

Sixty-nine percent express sympathy for undocumented immigrants, while just 29 percent label themselves unsympathetic.

Americans also reject Trump’s bigoted stereotypes. Over 70 percent say undocumented immigrants mostly fill jobs Americans don’t want, rather than taking them from American workers, and 65 percent do not believe Trump’s argument that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.

Only a third say today’s immigrants are less willing to adapt to the American way of life than were those who came in the early 1900s, which represents a significant decline in this view over the last dozen years.

As the situation at the border deteriorates under Trump, by 2-to-1, Americans disapprove of the way migrants attempting to cross the border are being treated by the government. 

By 60 percent to 35 percent, people favor allowing Central American refugees to seek asylum in the U.S. and, in response to a different question, just 31 percent would prevent refugees from coming to America. 

By 80 percent to 15 percent of people put a higher priority on a plan to allow some of those already living in the U.S. to become legal residents, rather than on deportation.

Americans reject separating children who crossed the border from their parents by a 50-point margin. 

And of course, Trump’s wall continues to generate opposition by margins ranging from 7 to 20 points, depending on the question, the pollster and the day.

In short, the American public opposes nearly every element of the president’s approach to immigration, from the underlying presumptions to the specific policies.

Yet, he continues to thumb his nose at the American public and does far worse to immigrants themselves.

Republican legislators enable him and GOP voters tend to agree with him. 

But Trump only appears to be a fool. His racism seems to be real and deeply felt, but in this case, it also serves a political function.

He wants to run against a Democratic Party defined by Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarNorth Dakota GOP state lawmaker shares debunked photo, calls Omar a 'terrorist' These 3 women are defining the race to unseat Trump Ocasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make MORE (Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocratic strategist: Sanders seeking distance from Warren could 'backfire' These 3 women are defining the race to unseat Trump CBS to Ocasio-Cortez on Sanders support: 'As a woman of color, why back an old white guy?' MORE (N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThese 3 women are defining the race to unseat Trump Ocasio-Cortez mourns Cummings: 'A devastating loss for our country' Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE (Mass.). 

The president knows racist attacks on them will generate tremendous media attention and that Democrats will rightly rush to defend them against his assault. 

The result: a Democratic Party defined, for many, by Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley.  

Trump’s an evil racist, but he has a spidey sense.

Mellman is president of The Mellman Group and has helped elect 30 U.S. senators, 12 governors and dozens of House members. Mellman served as pollster to Senate Democratic leaders for over 20 years and as President of the American Association of Political Consultants.