Donald Trump has hardened his rhetoric around every signature issue he’s ever had over the last few months, and it’s hardly rocket surgery to figure out why: He’s trying, possibly in vain, to rile up enough supporters to somehow allow Republicans to hang on to power in Congress in the upcoming midterm election.
That’s already an uphill battle, considering the fact that his own unpopularity is at historic highs, coming in somewhere between a root canal and euthanizing a pet. But for his base, his tactics have never stopped working, and the harder and louder he presses his preferred topics, the more it appeals to them.
First, he called for investigations into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers; shortly that became chants of “LOCK HER UP!”
He regularly claims that his political opponents support unfettered immigration, which turned into a regular talking point where he decried a non-existent “bill” Democrats were signing on to called the “Open Borders Act.”
He claimed that the Saudi arms deal he negotiated for more than $100 billion would create 40,000 jobs, then shifted that to 450,000 jobs, and in his latest interaction with reporters over it, said he’d “rather keep the million jobs” it would create than pursue a robust investigation of US-based Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder at the hands of Saudis inside an embassy in Turkey.
But most of all, he likes to make people scared of immigrants. From the beginning of his campaign for the presidency, he called Mexicans “rapists” and has since then conflated all immigrants who come to the country with Mexican nationals, attempted to form a narrative that paints the brutal gang MS-13 as a pressing threat to all Americans (although most members are American citizens and very localized), and most recently tried to declare that the caravan of migrants traveling north from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is full of “very bad people” and “hardened criminals.”
It’s not, of course. That’s just the white nationalist rhetoric he’s been using all along. The vast majority of those traveling with the caravan are seeking asylum from violence, government oppression, and gangs in their home countries. It is, of course, legal to seek asylum in the United States.
But when a reporter for the New York Times asked for proof that the migrants were indeed “hardened criminals” as the President likes to claim, Trump bristled and proved that he will never stop upping the rhetoric he uses.
Journalist Emily Cochrane asked Trump during a roundtable at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, “What evidence do you have that these are hardened criminals that are coming to the United States?”
Trump’s face contorted into a sneer as he snapped back,
Oh, please. Please. Don’t be a baby, okay?”
The President has no evidence. It’s ludicrous to believe that there could even be any evidence of that, as no official in the United States knows the identity of a single person in the caravan.
But now that Trump has peppered his rhetoric with a little sexism, his base will only eat it up more.
Featured image via screen capture