Radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country, as we know it."
- Donald Trump
In Donald Trump's eyes, he has accomplished "more than any other president has in the first two and a half years of a presidency". In many areas, he can indeed cite significant accomplishments: The national debt? Higher than it has ever been. Declining air quality? "More than four in 10 Americans, approximately 43.3 percent of the population, [now] live in counties that have monitored unhealthy ozone and/or particle pollution." Reduced access to health insurance? After the uninsured rate declined significantly under Obamacare, Gallup found that "the number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 7 million" since Trumpcare has been implemented. Border security? After Trump cut aid to countries in Central America, "border apprehensions for 2019 will reach the highest level since 2006 and double the number seen in 2018." Like the businesses that Trump drove into bankruptcy, America has seen a significant impact on its well being from his leadership.
However, these accomplishments pale in comparison to Trump's crowning achievement - deepening the chasm between red and blue America. Despite the fact that he was elected with a minority of the electorate, this president has done little to reach out to those beyond his base. Unlike his predecessor, he has made no attempt to compromise with the opposition party. He has yet to display his self-described mastery of the "Art of the Deal." Even acting presidential has eluded him. Instead of engaging in debate, he has childishly attacked anyone who has dared to question his actions or his policies, whether this criticism comes from a Republican Congressman, John McCain, the press, or the Democratic party.
If Trump's 2020 campaign kickoff event is any indication, the rhetoric is only going to get worse as the next election approaches. Knowing that 52% of Republicans support Medicare For All, the headline policy initiative of his opponents, Trump has avoided arguments based on facts and data. Instead, he has played on the emotions of hatred and fear.
Hillary Clinton is not a candidate this time around, but she was still the foil throughout his speech on Tuesday, as he mostly ignored his current opponents. This was probably no accident as current polls show that many of them are beating him in the state where he delivered the speech.
Throwing red meat to his cult-like following, Trump made sure to paint his opponents with broad brushes meant to instill a sense of danger. To quote him, "The swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently". His administration is "under siege". The "patriotic movement" he leads "has been under assault from the very first day."
This is from the same president who looked the other way while the MAGA Bomber sent explosive devices to those on his enemies list. The one who declared that there were "fine" people in a crowd gathered to engage in hero worship of traitors to our country who took up arms to protect the institution of slavery. This is the "leader" who cannot admit he made a mistake when he called for the death penalty to be used against men of color who were later proven to be innocent.
Of course, Trump's fans ate it up. Conspiracy theorists in Q shirts chanted "lock her up" as their Dear Leader basked in their adoration. The Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, had to be stopped by the police from disrupting a protest against the President. They showed up in "tactical gear to protect Trump fans from liberals."
This is not normal. No political party in a democracy should be claiming a monopoly on patriotism. Violent rhetoric has no place in a democratic election. Violent political groups should be universally condemned. People on both sides of the political fence need to step up and defend against our country's descent into fascism.
Republicans have already clearly shown that they are willing to sell the soul of their party for the short term gains of a Trump presidency. Are they also willing to sacrifice their country?
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.