NY Times Front: GOP Uses Trump's ‘Political Playbook of Demonization’ to Pit ‘Us vs. Them’

November 4th, 2018 5:29 PM

Sunday’s front-page New York Times featured reporter Jeremy Peters’ horrified reaction to President Trump’s aggressive push (or “demonization”) on behalf of Republicans as Election Day closes in: “G.O.P. Tactics Amplify Theme Of Us vs. Them – Sticking to President’s Script in Tight Races.”

The Republican attack ads targeting George Soros and Colin Kaepernick were the first to arrive in southern Minnesota last month, so closely echoing President Trump that he could have written them himself.

Then came the caravan.

This latest ad -- part of a multimillion-dollar blitz from Republican groups in this battleground House district -- warns of “a caravan full of illegal immigrants marching on America,” bringing with it “gang members and criminals.” Grainy video shows Latin American men pumping fists in the air.

As Republicans scramble ahead of Tuesday’s election to try to save their majorities in the House and Senate, many party officials and candidates like Jim Hagedorn, the nominee here in Minnesota’s First District, have concluded that their best shot at victory is embracing the Trump political playbook of demonization.

The goal -- through overt, frontal attacks on prominent liberals, minorities and immigrants -- is to stoke an us vs. them narrative about the country’s security, culture and heritage, in hopes of getting conservatives to see the election as a battle to save the nation’s future.

The Times tried its best to hint that Republicans are racist and bigoted without actually using the words.

In the handful of more rural, conservative-leaning districts where the party has a better shot of winning, the message is blunter.

In Minnesota, ads from groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee try to link Mr. Hagedorn’s opponent, Dan Feehan, to people and themes that conservatives have portrayed as a threat, like Mr. Soros, the liberal philanthropist who has been smeared with anti-Semitic attacks; Mr. Kaepernick, the black football player famous for kneeling during the national anthem; and now the migrant caravan.

Ads like these have aired repeatedly across the district’s 12,000 square miles of farmland and small towns, making it what Republicans say is the most active political laboratory for the bald appeals to white racial and cultural anxieties that President Trump and many Republicans are using to drive conservatives to the polls.

The First District, which is 90 percent white, fits the demographic profile of many of the places where Mr. Trump has been confined to campaigning by Republicans who do not want him in more diverse districts. Given Mr. Trump’s self-described “nationalist” views, some Republicans believe their path to staying in power in the Trump era is increasingly narrow and heavily dependent on the parts of the country that are the most white and rural.

This next paragraph begged the question: How does the Times know for a fact that Trump’s prediction of Democratic congressional priorities is in fact "misleading," before an actual Democratic takeover of Congress? It just comes off as a knee-jerk defense of the Democrats:

At his rallies lately Mr. Trump has laid out a clear, if misleading, picture of what Democratic control of Congress would look like. It includes, in no particular order, “caravan after caravan”; crime; chaos; sanctuary cities; “birth tourism,” where immigrants can have children who are automatically citizens; and an empowered and emboldened Maxine Waters, the black Democratic congresswoman he has often insulted as “low I.Q.”

In interviews, his supporters rejected any suggestion that Mr. Trump traffics in racist or divisive views, saying that the issues the president raised were merely matters of law and order and made good fiscal sense.