Trump’s default position is the use of fear. Scared about his prospects should Democrats take control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Trump is campaigning like crazy, trying desperately to stir his base to action, and he knows that the easiest way to do that is to stoke its anger, to appeal to the same misogyny, racism, nationalism and insecurity that carried him to the White House.
In campaign stops, he keeps saying that he’s on the ticket, that these state and local elections are not about the individual candidates but about him, his supporters and whether or not the dark vision of a diminished America that he has ushered in will survive.
Trump is trying desperately to elevate immigration as a burning issue again, focusing his fire on a caravan of immigrants from Central America plodding northward toward the U.S. This is an easy target for Trump and his base because it encapsulates a sentiment without expressly articulating it: America is being invaded and overrun by people who are not white and not European, which risks the maintenance of American heritage, which is white heritage. White people’s control of this country is in danger and under assault and must be defended and protected at all costs. But rather than ever using words like white supremacy and white nationalism, he uses proxies, like law and order, border walls and infestation.
And he now wants to cast liberals and Democrats as mobs. Well, count me among the mob, if that means people who stand in opposition to Trump’s degradation of the country in all ways. If the mob stands up for women and stands up to the National Rifle Association, I want in. If the mob hates corruption and loves the increasing diversity of this country, then it is for me. If the mob finds it abhorrent that during the same week that it became clear that a Washington Post columnist had been killed in a Saudi Arabian consulate, Trump praised an American politician who assaulted a journalist, then yes, yes, yes to the mob.
Trump’s strategy will work. He now knows the people who support him very well. He has never stopped playing to them and campaigning for them. They are family. They feast together on hatred and intolerance. We must conceive of the country we want and drive relentlessly toward it, not because we are thunderstruck by the sheer immorality that has risen to the pinnacle of power, but because we know that power is in fact a possession of the people in a democracy and we can both harness it and assert it.
Stay focused on the future. It belongs to an America that looks absolutely nothing like Trump’s America.