Translating Trump: the ‘go back’ saga

                A few days ago president Donald Trump touched off yet another firestorm with a series of tweets directed at radical left wing congressmen. The liberals in Trump’s sights are the four members of the so-called “squad” representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Pressley and Omar. As of late they have captured headlines with radical policy proposals. In late 2018, Cortez made the obscene demand of $40 trillion for Medicare for all for the next decade, loan forgiveness, paid family leave and a myriad of other giveaways. Representative Omar has a history of flagrantly anti-sematic statements such as when she claimed the Jewish lobby was forcing congressmen to “pledge allegiance” to Israel and on another occasion she suggested that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Representative Tlaib’s record is so anti-sematic that the Zionist Organization of America has formally called for her expulsion from the Democratic Party. Representative Pressley is yet to do anything extravagantly radical while in office. 

                The record of the so-called “squad” puts them in stark opposition to President Trump and the conservative movement. Clashes between the two have already happened but it heated up with Trump’s July 15th tweets. In their entirety the tweets in question go as follows:

“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly……

….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….

….it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

                Immediately, the leftists responded in force starting with a condemnation from the so-called “squad.” At a press conference Omar retorted, “This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms or on national TV. And now it’s reached the White House garden. He would love nothing more than to divide our country based on race, religion, gender orientation or immigration status because this is the only way he knows he can prevent the solidarity of us working together despite all our differences.”

Such went the leftist line of attack. The strategy was to brand Trump as a racist even more so than they already have. In the past, accusations of racism against the president have relied on his comments about “Sh*t hole countries” and the desire to build the wall. With these new tweets, playing the race card has become significantly easier for leftists.

The Democrat controlled House of Representatives followed up the racism argument by approving a resolution to condemn the president’s tweets. Four republicans threw in with the Democrats to condemn him –Will Hurd, Fred Upton, Brian Fitzpatrick, Susan Brooks and Independent Justin Amash. Six republicans abstained from the vote with the rest voting against it. At this point in this chronicle, the argument of the conservatives defending Trump was basically went like this: “The tweets were worded poorly but this is a question less of race and more about love of country. Anyone who does not like this country is free to leave it and go to a country they do. It appears that those congresswomen do not love America and therefore, they are free to leave.” The racial angle of it is downplayed to whatever extent possible as another Trump gaffe that failed to communicate his ideas effectively.

The situation changed after a Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina. After lambasting the so-called “squad” at some length, a chant of “send her back” started up. With parts of a crowd chanting that a rally, it any racial element of the matter had been exacerbated. More conservatives denounced the president or his supporters for that. Former GOP congressman Joe Walsh tweeted, “‘SEND HER BACK, SEND HER BACK,’ is ugly. It’s ignorant. It’s dangerous, and it’s un-American. It’s flat out bigotry. And every Republican should condemn this bigotry immediately. Stop this now.” Illinois representative Adam Kinzinger (R)similarly wrote, “I deeply disagree with the extreme left & have been disgusted by their tone. I woke up today equally disgusted – chants like “send her back” are ugly, wrong, & would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers. This ugliness must end, or we risk our great union.” Representative Tom Emmer responded by saying that “there is no place [for Trump’s rhetoric.”

Trump did disavow the chant saying, “I was not happy with it, I disagree with it.” At that point unfortunately, the damage was done and the entire debacle had colored Trump and portions of his base as racists. In the coming days the president would tweet multiple times defending himself by either doubling down on the “love it or leave it” line sans any hints of racial commentary or by sampling saying that he “doesn’t have a racist bone in [his] body.” This strategy represents Trump realizing albeit late, that the tweet was worded poorly and he is being more concise in his criticism of the hard left. He has distanced himself from anything wording to the effect of “go back to your country” in favor of the old conservative tag line “love it or leave it.”

Leaving out any wording that suggests any racial commentary –even if none was meant, is a must for Trump going forward. He was wrong to use any wording related to the phrase “go back to your country” or any similar theme. The president is not a racist; he touts the prosperity brought to minorities under his administration every other day on twitter. He has appointed minorities to high government offices such as black neurosurgeon Ben Carson as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Elaine L. Chao who was the first Asian-American to be appointed to a cabinet position as Secretary of transportation etc. The American people seem to believe this too considering that his poll numbers among blacks are significantly higher than they were for him in 2016 and far better than Mitt Romney’s before him. The tweets that set off this mess appear to be one-off mistakes that will not be repeated. Now, he is sticking with the race neutral message that anyone who does not love America is free to leave it, inferring that his radical left wing opponents do not love America of course. Wording like that is largely safe from misinterpretation. Senator Ron Johnson (R) concurred with this recently declaring on CNN that, “the whole America love or leave it is not a new sentiment. Back in the 1960s, that wasn’t considered racist” he then went on to blame race creeping into to every facet of life for mischaracterizing the phrase as racist. With any luck, Trump can keep from sticking his foot in his mouth with more poorly worded tweets and chants like that which happened in North Carolina do not repeat themselves.

Image credit: CNN “Donald Trump isn’t learning from his mistakes (opinion) – CNN”

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