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Est. April 5, 2002
November 01, 2018 - Issue 762

Trump’s Encouragement of Violence
May Backfire in Midterms

"He has become a drag on Republican candidates, even
in deep red states, with the obvious untruths that he
utters with abandon.  Trump’s handling of the package
bombs and the Tree of Life genocide has reduced
his approval rating from 45% to 40%."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • As predicted in a October 2018 column, Trump’s demonization of current Democratic elected officials (Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, twice); Jewish Democratic donors (George Soros and Tom Steyer); and the print and broadcast media (CNN and the New York Times) has led to bombs being sent to their offices. It has also created the politically toxic climate that led to the murder of 11 of our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the killing of two African Americans at a Kroger grocery Store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky after the murderer could not gain access to a nearby black church where he was likely trying to repeat the massacre of 9 black parishioners in 2015 at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

  • Also targeted with bombs were Democrats Hillary Clinton (two-time former presidential candidate); her husband (former President Bill Clinton); New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; former CIA Director John Brennan; former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper; and others.

  • The question is whether the general public and Trump’s hard core supporters believe that his rhetoric has gone too far, or will they continue to embrace his rhetoric and deny that it has had anything to do with these attacks?

In a continued show of hubris, after briefly expressing sympathy for the Tree of Life murders, after initially stating that it “… appeared to be an anti-Semitic attack,” Trump went merrily on his way to a campaign rally a few hours later in Murphysboro, Illinois where his first remarks were that he had had a bad hair day. And when some of those in attendance yelled lock her up in reference to Hillary Clinton, he smiled and basked in their venomous refrains, as usual. Trump justified his attendance at the event, instead of cancelling it as his predecessors had done when major tragedies had occurred during their campaign seasons, by saying that the stock market was reopened a day after the 9/11 attacks on America which was a lie.

However, the murder of Jews is consistent with their malicious treatment around the world over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust during World War II. Anti-Semitism functions as a proxy for the assaults on people of color, LGBTQ citizens, and those who are different, and is becoming more pronounced as `the nation transitions from majority white to pluralistic in makeup. There was a 34% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 and 57% increases in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

When Neo-Nazis organized the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia and marched through the University of Virginia chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and attacking those who protested against them and slaying Heather Hyer, Trump firmly stated that “… there are good people on both sides,” giving cover to white supremacists and Nazis.

When reading about the victims of the Tree of Life homicides, I was struck by the biography of 97-year old Rose Mallinger, a family matriarch and Holocaust survivor, who reminded me of my dear friend Israel Wolnerman, also a Holocaust survivor. Both of them had survived incalculable horror in Nazi concentration camps in the course of their youth to get to America. I accompanied Israel to several Shoah Memorials where I came to understand more fully the depths and complexities of Nazi depravity. I am Rose Mallinger (and the 10 other Jews whose lives were snuffed out in the Tree of Life Synagogue where they were worshiping). I am also Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice Stallard, two African Americans who were executed at the Kroger Store two days before. We all should stand in solidarity with them.

Trump has upped his racist rhetoric and threats in recent weeks as he seeks to maintain his Republican House and Senate majorities. After the bomb mailings, he complained that this “bomb stuff” was hindering Republican voters’ midterm turnout.

Trump is also throwing plenty of red meat to his base to drive Republicans to the polls: the promise to issue an executive order to eliminate birthright citizenship for foreign babies born on U.S. soil (so-called anchor babies, a racist trope) and sending 5,200 regular military troops to the southern U.S. border to stop the caravan of Central Americans, whose numbers are being reduced on a daily basis, and are now less than the number of troops sent to stop them. (They could not reach the American border for at least another month at their current pace.) Trump has been unrelenting in his encouragement of violence and polarization with poisonous speech-making as he traverses the nation on a final push to elect Republicans.

However, in the aftermath of the recent hostility prompted by Trump’s consistently polarizing messaging, Democrats, despite their erratic campaign strategies, have been given a political shot in the arm a week before the midterm elections. Trump’s labeling of Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, as a “thief” has given Gillum a boost in the polls and has dramatically invigorated early voting turnout among voters of color. With his GOTV field operation, Gillum is poised to generate an even larger vote than he did in the primary when he scored an unexpected victory in a crowded field.

In New Jersey, Trump’s disrespect of the Jewish community by going on the campaign trail with his usual incendiary bombast, in the immediate aftermath at the Tree of Life carnage in Pittsburgh, has boosted the reelection chances of Sen. Bob Menendez. (New Jersey has a sizeable and politically active Jewish population.) Menendez barely escaped conviction via a deadlocked jury in a corruption trial for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from a campaign benefactor who is currently in prison. His Republican opponent, multi-millionaire former pharmaceutical executive, Bob Hugin, who is joined at the hip with Trump and who avidly supported the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, has lost considerable ground after being in a dead heat with Menendez in earlier polls.

Educated white suburban women, especially public school teachers, moderates, and Independents are also falling away from Trump as they are tiring of his misogynistic and xenophobic oratory. He has become a drag on Republican candidates, even in deep red states, with the obvious untruths that he utters with abandon. Trump’s handling of the package bombs and the Tree of Life genocide has reduced his approval rating from 45% to 40%.

This drop in his numbers has given new life to North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who has trailed her Republican opponent by double digits, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is in a dead heat with State Attorney General Josh Hawley, and Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly who were considered the most vulnerable Democrats in their reelection bids.

Democrats are expected to pick up governorships in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, possibly Georgia, Ohio, and a couple of other states placing them in the position to undo some of the biased political gerrymandering that led to Republicans gaining control of numerous state legislatures and the U.S. House and Senate after the 2010 census.

We project that Democrats will take the House and have an outside chance of taking the Senate. An unexpected upset may be Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke over his Republican opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz, in Texas. His on-the-ground organization and the fervor of his supporters have been under-estimated in recent polls. A win, or loss, for O’Rourke could create a blue earthquake in future Texas races. More detailed analyses next week.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
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