The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Donald Trump is American democracy’s worst nightmare come true

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) chairs a committee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 18. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
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Does the president of the United States have any regard for what comes out of his mouth?

Does he care about whom he smears, vilifies and hurts? Of course he does. President Trump does not show disdain for people who like, and are just like, him. With them, he minds his manners. To them, he shows respect. Because of their devotion to him, they are worthy of his praise, which he hands down with great abandon. They find common ground and make common cause.

This newspaper and other mainstream news outlets, refer to them as “white working-class voters," "Trump’s “base,” people who “feel left behind despite the strong economy,” “white Republicans,” “die-hard Trump supporters.” Their whiteness is a common feature. So, too, their dislikes.

They love it when Trump crosses the line and launches broadsides against black and brown people. His overtly racist language is music to their ears.

As with others in the mainstream media, Trump’s rhetoric is described as “divisive.” That suggests Trump is resorting to words that create disunity; that he is trying to cause disagreement. False.

Racial alienation and hostility already exist, churning beneath the surface. Trump is only exploiting the divisions.

Which helps explain why Trump didn’t stop the xenophobes at his North Carolina rally chanting, “Send her back.” It’s also why, in his original comments, he did not single out and condemn the white supremacists in Charlottesville who screamed racist and anti-Semitic slurs, started fights, delivered beatings.

They and Trump are drawn together in their low regard for people who aren’t white.

Which also helps explain Trump’s disgusting slandering of more than 700,000 people who live in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, which includes much of Baltimore’s majority-black population.

The Mueller hearings revealed Sean Hannity's outsized influence on Trump is also driving GOP members of Congress. Erik Wemple warns against this. (Video: The Washington Post)

Trump tweeted that the place where those citizens are living is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” He put down their city as a “very dangerous & filthy place” — the “most dangerous anywhere in the United States.”

About the Americans who call Baltimore home, Trump declared, “No human being would want to live there.” And that is how they are seen through the eyes of the president.

Trump’s tirade against Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), a prominent black member of Congress, is being billed in some conservative quarters as an ideological fight over immigration policies between two political partisans. Yeah, right. Just as his attacks against four minority congresswomen whom he slammed with a racist go-back-to-your-country brickbat stemmed from an exchange of views over border walls.

We know why he referred to El Salvador, Haiti and African countries as “shitholes,” and Nigerians as living in “huts” and, as CNN anchor Victor Blackwell noted, applies the label “infested” when referring to places from which black and brown people come.

Let’s cut out all the mealy-mouthed reporting about who Trump is and what he is up to.

America has in Trump the kind of president it would have had if South Carolina segregationist Strom Thurmond had won when he ran on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948. There wouldn’t have been a dime’s worth of difference between a Trump administration and the administration of Alabama race-baiter George Wallace had he captured the presidential contest in 1968.

Donald Trump is American democracy’s worst nightmare come true.

Time now to recognize the danger for what it is and gear up to end this horror show in November 2020.

Here’s what lawmakers and others are saying about President Trump’s Cummings, Baltimore remarks

The Rev. Al Sharpton | Sharpton on Monday lambasted President Trump for his attacks on Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and the majority-black district he represents, calling Trump’s remarks “bigoted and racist.” “He attacks Nancy Pelosi, he attacks Chuck Schumer, he attacks other whites — but he never said their districts or their states are places that no human being wants to live,” he said. Read the story (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Read more:

Jonathan Capehart: In Trump’s America, the ‘basket of deplorables’ is overflowing

Greg Sargent: Trump is leading a hate movement, and the world is watching

The Post’s View: Trump’s racist tweets are one of the lowest moments of his presidency

Jonathan Capehart: Yes, Donald Trump, you are a ‘racist’

Henry Olsen: Yes, Trump’s tweets are offensive. But there’s one big reason Republicans still stand by him.