When there is an issue that Trump wants to attack, he will invariably use fear to motivate his base. He will mark the most distorted views and explain them in terms that reflect the wildest conspiracy theories. From the Paris Accords to the Green New Deal, they are explained in the simplest terms, in a way that will instill the most fear.
From the start of his campaign, Trump sought to use fear of illegal immigrants to awaken the racist underbelly of a twisted segment of the population. Calling Mexicans rapists who were bringing drugs over the border was his introduction to the world political stage. He continued this tactic, including the pledge to build a wall for which he promised Mexico would pay.
He also vilified the Muslim community, insulting the parents of a Gold Star soldier, who was killed in action. He also promised to ban all Muslims from entering the country, insinuating that they were all terrorists. This oversimplification and fear-mongering further incited the racist nature of his base, who were more than happy to stand behind these vague accusations.
Trump’s inauguration speech, invoking “American carnage”, had the same fear inducing tone. His bizarre choice of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, a song about dying, evoked more of a macabre element into the launch of this administration, which made its first acts an attempt to undo any strides made by President Obama, such was his hatred of the former president.
The campaign promised Muslim ban was also an early act of the administration. The ensuing chaos it caused through its inept attempts at enforcement led to it twice being struck down, yet it still appealed to the basest elements of his followers. In the end, a proposed 180 day travel ban has evolved into a permanent one.
Throughout it all was the issue of illegal immigration and the promised Mexican paid-for wall that became a major campaign issue during the midterms. Largely ignored was the administration's policy of separating families. Claims of caravans of criminals resurfaced, as did renewed calls for a border wall. When Democrats won the House of Representatives, Trump used the issue of the border wall and illegal immigration to shut down the government for the longest period in its history. It ended without a wall, but with the threat of yet another shutdown.
Once in control of the House, progressive members of the newly anointed Democratic leadership proposed a Green New Deal, aimed at converting the United States from a nation dependent on fossil fuels to one that uses renewable energy. Again, Trump stoked fear, claiming that the Green New Deal would eliminate air travel, automobiles and even, yes, farting cows.
Backed by anti-abortion Evangelicals, Trump seized upon the New York law that was passed, removing abortion from the criminal statutes of the state. He spread the claim that babies would be murdered moments after they were born. This ludicrous assertion was spread from church pulpits to the bully pulpit, with many seemingly rational adults believing this fantastical lie.
Trump’s lies were not limited to minorities and the opposition party. The media, other than his propaganda network, Fox, have been, and currently are, living under constant threats of violence. Bombs have been mailed to news agencies that have criticized the administration, reporters covering Trump rallies are berated and threatened. At his latest rally, a BBC reporter was attacked, all egged on by shouts of Fake News at any coverage that Trump dislikes.
Where will it end? Even the deaths of children didn’t stop the hate.
Even when faced with facts, fear is still the primary motivator.
Lies and misinformation are the primary avenues.
When will enough be enough!?
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.