President Trump’s defense of white nationalism — from his glorification of Confederate statues to his refusal to acknowledge, let alone address, systemic racism to his demonization of immigrants — is immoral and un-American. Moreover, both the message and the mass events he uses to propagate it are unsustainable as the basis for a presidential campaign. Here are 10 reasons why:

  • If left-wing mobs are attacking the country, why doesn’t/hasn’t Trump done something about it? He’s president after all.
  • Does Trump have a plan (beyond statues) to address this non-problem? (Hint: It’s not a problem; it’s not “solvable”; and it offers nothing but a conduit for bile.) A president is expected to govern, not simply to vent.
  • Why should Americans care about statues when some 127,000 people are dead from covid-19 and unemployment is in double digits? His obsession seems especially bizarre given that the country is experiencing actual carnage thanks to his incompetent response.
  • Since no significant violence is perceptible, how does he sustain the illusion that his followers are under siege? (Watching a crowd tear down a Confederate monument or two is not exactly bloodcurdling.)
  • What states can be won without nonwhite voters, college-educated voters, young voters and suburban women (granted, there is some overlap among these) for whom his message is repulsive? (He can hold his racial-grievance sessions in red states such as Oklahoma and South Dakota, but how do his messages play in states that are actually in contention?)
  • Who are these Democrats that he claims support violence? (I haven’t seen any of them on the ballot.) Does anyone outside his cult think former vice president Joe Biden defends mayhem?
  • What will Trump do when events he needs to spread his message of racial grievance and belligerent opposition to medical expertise add to the pandemic death toll (since they are held without mandatory masks and social distancing)?
  • With states such as Texas and Pennsylvania requiring masks and/or banning mass events, will Trump appear and break the law, stay away or capitulate to health experts?
  • Will any incumbent Senate Republican in a competitive race (e.g., Maine, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa) appear with him? While Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) can be counted on to regurgitate Trump’s message of white grievance, does Trump plan on throwing overboard any Republican who won’t?
  • As corporate boycotts pressure Facebook to police hate speech and Washington’s NFL football team to pick a name that is not racially offensive, what happens when Trump’s donors and surrogates (not to mention right-wing media outlets) come under similar pressure to sever ties with him?

Trump is running a campaign akin to George Wallace’s in 1968, when he denounced “a few anarchists, a few activists, a few militants, a few revolutionaries, and a few Communists … [whose day] is going to be over soon.” If you think I exaggerate, consider that Wallace in 1968 declared, “The American people are not going to stand by and see the security of our nation imperiled, and they’re not going to stand by and see this nation destroyed, I can assure you that.” Wallace insisted, in words that are eerily familiar to voters who listen to Trump: “The pseudo-intellectuals and the theoreticians and some professors and some newspaper editors and some judges and some preachers have looked down their nose long enough at the average man on the street.”

Fifty-two years later, Trump’s rhetoric has even less currency than such assertions did in Wallace’s era. The country is different. The electorate is different. And the rhetoric of subversion, violence and fear does not really work when you are the one in power and responsible for keeping Americans secure and safe. And on that score, voters are all too aware that Trump has not kept them safe from death, sickness or economic distress. Trump’s bet that Americans are racist and oblivious is a poor one.

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