Trump Campaign Appears To Be Using Mugshots Of Black People To Attack Biden


568 points

If you think dirty campaign tactics are a new thing, you’re either very young or haven’t paid much attention to electoral politics over the years. From using mailers that look like official government forms to whisper campaigns about affairs or children out of wedlock to totally baseless accusations meant only to fire up the media, politicians haven’t been shy about using underhanded tricks to get what they want — especially Republicans.

Perhaps the most famous dirty trick got pulled back in 1988 by Lee Atwater, the campaign manager for George Bush Senior’s presidential campaign when he ran against former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Atwater engineered advertisements depicting a Black man named William Horton, a convicted murderer, who was given a prison furlough under a system that had existed in Massachusetts before Dukakis was even the Governor there. Horton would fail to return to prison after one such furlough, and while he was gone, he raped and murdered a white woman.


Everything about the ad was designed to stoke white fear. Atwater even renamed the man “Willie,” a blacker-sounding name to many Americans back in 1988.

Now, Donald Trump is doing the exact same thing George H.W. Bush did 32 years ago, as he uses mugshots of Black criminals with very loose connections to Joe Biden to attack Joe as soft on crime. His campaign is tweeting out messages that look and feel exactly like that “Willie Horton” ad all those years ago:

Is there anyone reading this who thinks it’s a coincidence that all of the people depicted are Black? And the connection that they all share to Joe Biden?

This disgusting, racist tactic should be called out even by fellow Republicans — because it is over the top in 2020 to still be stoking white fear and playing to stereotypes.

Featured image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore, under Creative Commons license 2.0

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568 points