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Tapper: Trump pushing campaign of fear

CNN's Jake Tapper says the racially charged ad tweeted by President Trump ahead of the midterm elections is "fueling the fire" of division in the US.

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 1:57 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 2:07 PM

Donald Trump's tweet of a racially inflammatory ad, days before the midterm elections, illustrates that the President and the Republican Party are long past dog whistles.

The ad features at least three villains: Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported Mexican immigrant found guilty of killing two police officers; an unidentified group of immigrants crashing through borders; and the Democratic Party, which the ad accuses of eagerly inviting angry, dangerous and violent immigrant hordes into the country.

Welcome to Trump's version of American nationalism.

The commercial tweeted by the President virtually pours kerosene on the already raging flames of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that has helped fuel Trump's political rise and helped maintain his base of support. According to reporting by The Washington Post and The Sacramento Bee, it's also based on a series of falsehoods spun out to demonize the Democrats.

Thirty years ago, Lee Atwater, the campaign manager of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush's faltering presidential campaign, unleashed the infamous Willie Horton attack ad portraying Democratic presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis as a weak-on-crime liberal who allowed a black criminal to rape and assault a white couple while on a weekend furlough from prison.

The tactic proved brutally effective, smearing Democrats as purveyors of urban violence and chaos, stereotyping black men as dangerous criminals, and influencing all subsequent Democratic presidential nominees' stances on the death penalty and criminal justice policies -- which in turn helped produce our contemporary crisis of mass incarceration. The fallout from the ad proved to be a watershed, transforming the name of a once-obscure black man into a verb.

Future politicians all vowed never to let anyone "Willie Horton" them. In fact, candidate Bill Clinton so feared being "Willie Hortoned" four years later that he personally flew to Arkansas to oversee the death sentence of a black defendant to prove his bona fides to white voters who remained skeptical of the Democratic Party's ties to civil rights and racial justice advocacy.

The Republicans took the White House after the 1988 election at the cost of the party's anti-slavery roots. The once-proud party of Lincoln, having weathered the racial storms brought on by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, could not survive the nakedly racist appeals of the Horton ad. Atwater's promise to turn Horton into Dukakis' running mate succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and long past his change of heart while stricken with terminal cancer and dying at the age of 40.

Willie Horton transformed American politics. Like a racist apparition rising from the fever dream of a Reconstruction-era racial segregationist, Horton played upon longstanding and historic racial fears and anxiety about black violence, criminality and sexuality. The image of Horton's scowling mug shot juxtaposed against a picture of Dukakis lent visual evidence to the era's criminalization of the entire black community.

Less than a quarter of a century after the passage of major civil rights and voting rights legislation of the 1960s, the Horton ad also represented an assault on a rising black middle class and elites determined to gain their share of the American dream. Jesse Jackson's stirring presidential runs in the 1984 and 1988 Democratic primaries, where he garnered millions of votes in campaigns that anticipated the Obama coalition's political success, challenged the myth that the nation would never elect a black president.

Atwater's tactics, once considered politically extreme by Republicans, have now become the standard political appeal for the GOP. Where past Republican presidents hid behind political consultants and campaign managers, Trump remains an unapologetic pied piper of racial division.

Trump's tweet follows on the heels of the President's order to increase the military presence on America's southern border to confront an immigrant caravan he's characterized as nothing less than an "invasion."

The President has also claimed, erroneously according to legal experts and elected officials from both parties, that he can and will end the 14th Amendment's conferring of birthright citizenship on any person born on American soil.

A President who rode to unimagined political heights demonizing a panoramic group of Americans and immigrants has now embraced an ad that is the visual equivalent of the toxic rhetoric and anti-human policy measures that have marked his administration. We know the reason why he did it: It wins elections and helps him maintain his narcissistic grip on power.

How he did it represents a larger cautionary tale for our entire democratic system. Three decades ago forces in the GOP determined that they needed to expand the political strategy that ushered in the Nixon and Reagan administrations to maintain power. They did so at the cost of their own political souls and in the process opened up a racial Pandora's box that this nation has been struggling to close ever since.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 87807

Reported Deaths: 2002
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25454917
Ramsey10349316
Dakota6995125
Anoka5596132
Stearns367023
Washington349255
Scott236632
Olmsted225327
Nobles192016
Blue Earth15566
Wright14937
Carver13197
Rice12908
St. Louis128229
Mower12614
Clay121340
Sherburne106313
Kandiyohi9112
Winona82818
Lyon6344
Steele5132
Freeborn5043
Nicollet49516
Watonwan4954
Benton4923
Todd4722
Le Sueur4413
McLeod4382
Waseca4228
Chisago4211
Crow Wing41018
Otter Tail3734
Beltrami3654
Goodhue3219
Martin2909
Itasca26413
Polk2624
Becker2372
Pine2360
Isanti2340
Carlton2311
Douglas2291
Cottonwood2140
Pipestone2089
Morrison1901
Dodge1880
Chippewa1851
Sibley1693
Meeker1662
Wabasha1660
Unassigned16552
Brown1642
Murray1492
Rock1450
Yellow Medicine1442
Mille Lacs1363
Faribault1290
Jackson1251
Cass1233
Renville1206
Roseau1090
Pennington1081
Fillmore1050
Houston1040
Swift1041
Kanabec1008
Koochiching1003
Lincoln950
Redwood930
Stevens901
Pope820
Hubbard710
Aitkin691
Big Stone660
Wadena610
Grant574
Wilkin553
Norman510
Lake480
Marshall481
Mahnomen451
Lac qui Parle410
Red Lake370
Traverse290
Clearwater240
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson130
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 78552

Reported Deaths: 1255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15133256
Johnson496227
Woodbury486561
Black Hawk431686
Linn3722105
Story326317
Scott271227
Dubuque266140
Dallas265338
Pottawattamie195137
Buena Vista193312
Marshall175634
Sioux12753
Wapello124357
Webster118414
Muscatine105452
Clinton104618
Plymouth100120
Cerro Gordo98621
Crawford9804
Warren9226
Jasper74232
Des Moines7247
Marion7014
Tama68531
Carroll6275
Henry5974
Lee5857
Wright5571
Dickinson4756
Bremer4597
Boone4557
Washington42711
Louisa41915
Franklin33117
Mahaska32619
Delaware3183
Hamilton3143
Jackson2923
Floyd2913
Winneshiek2835
Benton2781
Clay2773
Hardin2731
Winnebago26211
Butler2572
Clarke2533
Emmet24810
Shelby2411
Jones2393
Allamakee2375
Poweshiek2368
Lyon2323
Buchanan2291
Clayton2273
Cedar2171
Guthrie2115
Kossuth2090
Chickasaw2030
Grundy2002
Madison1992
Sac1980
Cherokee1792
Howard1795
Iowa1791
Fayette1781
Mitchell1750
Hancock1712
Harrison1692
Humboldt1693
Calhoun1672
Mills1621
Palo Alto1560
Pocahontas1502
Monroe14410
Page1410
Lucas1386
Jefferson1321
Cass1282
Monona1281
Osceola1210
Appanoose1193
Taylor1191
Union1193
Davis1134
Van Buren1081
Worth1000
Keokuk891
Montgomery855
Ida840
Greene820
Fremont790
Wayne792
Adair621
Decatur580
Audubon551
Ringgold412
Adams270
Unassigned150
Rochester
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Mason City
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