Hatred is a human impulse that Trump wields as a political tool

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President Trump paid a somber visit to Pittsburgh yesterday. He lit candles and lay stones on Star of David markers memorializing those murdered in the Tree of Life Synagogue last Saturday. Is this a turning point? Has the shooting shocked him into sobriety? No. We have seen all this before. He cuts into the fabric of American life with sharp invective, then offers the thin bandage of a teleprompter speech. He mouths words while winking to his real audience, as if letting them into his little inside joke.

The joke is on us. This is uncharted territory. We have seen it reflected in ugly moments in our history. But this is different. Anti-semitism is not new in this country. A president whose invective seems to summon and inspire anti-semitism is. Racism is not a Trump phenomenon. A movement built around white nationalism that is coached and coaxed by a president is. Bigotry against the LGBTQ community is not new. A president singling out transgender Americans for isolation and second class citizenship is.

{mosads}We have had violence and hatred and bigotry in our history. Up to now, responsible presidents have sought to heal the wounds. This one likes pouring salt in them. This one thinks you can fan the flames of hatred, then blame the press for reporting on the burning. We have reached the dangerous nexus of desperation and discrimination. We have a president who is about to lose his majority in the House, trying to control the narrative, and seeking to energize his base to mitigate the defeat.

How desperate? Remember the canard that we must fight the terrorists over there, so that we do not have to fight them here? We now have a president who wants to fight migrants here instead of containing them there. He is willfully misusing our military by sending 5,200 troops to the border against a faux invasion. In his cable television mind, soldiers are props, extras to be stage managed on a Fox News spectacle.

He was not able to get his military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Now he will get it in Laredo. The deployment, by the way, is an open admission that his foreign policy has failed catastrophically. He has been unable to work with other nations to control the conditions that spark caravans, so he will let refugees walk all over his failed foreign policy and meet them at the border, right before the midterm elections.

The president is so desperate to rally his base that in the wake of the deaths of 11 Jews in their synagogue, he blew another dog whistle, this one on Monday against a free press which he called “the enemy of the people.” As if egging on one failed pipe bomber was not enough. Now he will test the willingness of yet another maniac to strike next.

Next week marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the attacks against synagogues and the murders of Jews in Germany and Austria. For the American Jewish community, this was a grotesque part of history. Now it is a headline in Pittsburgh. The attacks in Nazi Germany were orchestrated by the government. The president certainly is not orchestrating these attacks today. But he is definitely in the orchestra that is playing an old familiar tune louder than any American president ever has.

That is what makes this so different and dangerous. If you do not send a message by voting in the midterm elections, or by supporting opponents to the president, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, it is going to get unimaginably worse for our nation. Then it will be on you.

Steve Israel represented New York in Congress for 16 years. He served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is a novelist whose latest book is “Big Guns.” You can follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael and Facebook @RepSteveIsrael.

Tags America Congress Donald Trump Election Politics President Steve Israel

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