Monday, March 18, 2019

How Donald Trump Played the (White) Race Card and Reshaped the Democratic Party

Today, we started a big, beautiful wall.” It was mid-February, and President Donald Trump was crowing at his first MAGA rally of 2019. There was no new wall, of course, and everyone in the border town of El Paso, Texas, could see that. But in the sea of red hats at the County Coliseum, the line was met with roars of approval. What mattered was that the president was owning the libs, undeterred several weeks after provoking, then caving over, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Before Trump rolled into town, El Paso’s sheriff was telling anyone who would listen that El Paso “was a safe city long before any wall was built.” Republican Mayor Dee Margo similarly denounced Trump’s claims during his State of the Union address that El Paso was riddled with crime until it put a barrier in place. Media outlets like the Associated Press published stats: El Paso’s murder rate was already less than half the national average in 2005, a year before the city’s border fence with Mexico went up, and for almost a dec­ade before, El Paso was rated one of the three safest major cities.

But the crowd was there to hear Trump’s version. “Murders! Murders! Murders! Killings! Murders!” the president shouted, before turning on El Paso’s leaders. “They’re full of crap when they say it hasn’t made a big difference,” the president told the crowd. “Thanks to a powerful border wall in El Paso, Texas, it’s one of America’s safest cities now.”

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