Donald Trump is a racist demagogue. Whether he believed President Barack Obama was born in America or not, misses the point. He milked the birther conspiracy to appeal to Republican voters’ racial animosity. This is aligned with the Southern Strategy that began with Richard Nixon using racially-coded language to garner electoral support. However, when Trump launched his presidential campaign, he put the dog whistle away and began directly demonizing immigrants from our southern border.
Trump number one immigrant boogeyman is MS-13, a criminal gang of people from Central America. They have about 10,000 members, but judging by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, you would think millions of them are terrorizing the United States. Trump knows if Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, much less the Senate, his political comeuppance will be brutal. That is why MS-13 will be one of the centerpieces of his get-out-the-vote strategy for the midterm elections.
First thing Monday morning, the White House issued a press release called “What You Need To Know About The Violent Animals Of MS-13.” By using his communications shop to drive this message, Trump made it clear MS-13 is going to get the “Willie Horton” treatment. Horton was an African-American serving a life-sentence in Massachusetts. During a weekend furlough he escaped and raped a woman. Vice President George H.W. Bush highlighted the incident in a 1988 President campaign television ad against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. The “soft on crime” label helped swing the election significantly in Bush’s favor.
The press release mentions the family members of victims of some of MS-13’s most infamous attacks. In the future, you can assume the names of the actual perpetrators will become household names. Donald Trump has already mused about shutting down the government in September if he doesn’t get the funding for his border wall. MS-13 will be Exhibit A for why the enormous expenditure is supposedly a national emergency. Granted, Trump has made similar threats before and backed down, but he is itching for a fight and believes racial demagoguery is his ticket to electoral salvation. Democrats better be prepared to fight back.
J.H. Norton is a communications professional, life-long Democrat, and married father of two boys living in Washington, D.C.