Trailing badly in new national polls, President Trump tried out an audacious new appeal to voters during his epic live-tweeting on Monday of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett: Parts of America are “going to hell: Vote Trump!”
Trump, who has often derided Democratic-run states, singled out three of them as particularly deplorable.
California is going to hell. Vote Trump!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2020
New York has gone to hell. Vote Trump!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2020
Illinois has no place to go. Sad, isn’t it? Vote Trump!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2020
Together, California, New York and Illinois account for 20 percent of the U.S. population. All of them, and the largest cities within them, are led by Democrats.
Trump’s partisan parsing of the country is nothing new. On Sept. 16, two weeks before he announced that he had contracted COVID-19, Trump qualified the number of infections and deaths from the disease in the U.S. by saying “that’s despite the fact that the blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at.”
Since being elected in 2016, Trump has regularly sought to divide the nation in terms of political ideology, and in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, he shifted the focus of his reelection campaign to preserving “law and order.” At a time when the coronavirus pandemic was worsening across the country, and the U.S. economy had shed millions of jobs, Trump promoted dubious claims to draw attention to rising crime rates.
“You hear about certain places like Chicago and you hear about what’s going on in Detroit and other — other cities, all Democrat run,” he told reporters on June 24. “Every one of them is Democrat run. Twenty out of 20. The 20 worst, the 20 most dangerous are Democrat run.”
On Aug. 15, he retweeted Republican activist Brandon Straka, who had written that America should “Leave Democratic cities. Let them rot.”
In a tweet two weeks later, Trump again sought to identify the Democratic Party with crime itself.
The Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. are ALL run by Democrats, and this has gone on for DECADES!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2020
Trump’s attacks on Democratic-led cities and states are a continuation of his message from the 2016 campaign, except that then he also blamed the Obama administration. Pressed in an interview that year with Bill O’Reilly what he would do about urban crime and deep mistrust of police among some residents of places like Chicago, Trump conceded that as president he would really only be able to “be a cheerleader” for law enforcement. Yet even the year after being elected, Trump claimed that the violence in Chicago was “easily fixable” were it not for the “political correctness” of liberal politicians.
Trump has on many occasions drawn a distinction between the parts of the country that support him and those that don’t, affording his opponent, Joe Biden, an opening to vow that he will be president “for all Americans.”
What we need in America is leadership that seeks to de-escalate tensions, to open lines of communication, and to bring us together. To heal — and to hope.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 9, 2020
As president, that is precisely what I will do.
Short of an unprecedented political realignment in states like California, New York and Illinois, Trump’s theory that all inner-city problems would disappear if only Democrats were replaced by Republicans and America let police do their job without interference is unlikely to be put to the test.
But the evidence is already in, from the president’s own mouth, about the Trump administration’s record of imposing law and order over the four years it has been in power.
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