Updated: Jul 27
Desperate to reverse his plummeting standing in the polls, Donald Trump has adopted a strategy of intimidation and fear, clearly intended to scare Americans into voting for him on November 3. It won't work.
The strategy is being carried out in Portland, OR, where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deployed federal agents to wage war against civilians who are continuing to protest in the aftermath of the George Floyd police killing in Minneapolis and in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
It's being carried out in the threats by Trump to send thousands of federal storm troopers into other cities that are experiencing increases in violent crime, cities with Democratic mayors who Trump accuses of being soft on crime. He holds out the image for voters across the land that without his tough guy approach, such violence will come to their communities as well.
“You hear about certain places like Chicago and you hear about what’s going on in Detroit and other — other cities, all Democrat run,” Trump said at a White House event last Wednesday. “Every one of them is Democrat run. Twenty out of 20. The 20 worst, the 20 most dangerous are Democrat run.”
“For decades, politicians running many of our nation’s major cities have put the interests of criminals above the rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said. “These same politicians have now embraced the far-left movement to break up our police departments, causing violent crime in their cities to spiral, and I mean spiral seriously out of control.”
So, he announced that hundreds of federal law enforcement officers are now being deployed to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Kansas City to combat violent crime. Under the plan, called Operation LeGend, these federal agents are to work with local police to investigate and prosecute what Trump called a “shocking explosion of shootings, killings and murders.”
Then, on Saturday, violence spread to other cities, including Seattle, where officials declared a riot -- as they did in Portland -- because of the spreading protests, marred by violence.
The intensified protests in Seattle followed a tweet on Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who wrote, "President Trump sent federal officers to Seattle because he is itching for a confrontation. He wants attention. We shouldn’t give him either. Keep it peaceful, keep the attention where it belongs – on building a better, more just Washington for everyone."
“For a month, the President threatened to send federal forces to ‘clean up’ Seattle. The President has made good on his threats in Portland, and continues to exacerbate the situation on the ground, endanger communities, and jeopardize the work of local officials,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said Wednesday. “The President unilaterally deploying paramilitary-type forces into American cities should concern all Americans. His blatant disregard for the constitution — and for the safety and well-being of our residents — is textbook despotism.”
Separate from Operation LeGend, the officers from DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service are in Portland ostensibly to protect federal property. But they've been seen forcing protestors into unmarked vans away from federal buildings, and Oregon's attorney general has filed a lawsuit seeking to force them out of the city.
"The Trump administration needs to stop playing politics with people's lives," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, told NPR. "We don't have a secret police in this country. This is not a dictatorship, and Trump needs to get his officers off the streets. There's absolutely no question that by having the presence of federal officers here, it's simply like adding gasoline to a fire . . . The situation had been improving over the past several weeks and that their presence here substantially escalated the situation . . . And honestly, this is about scoring political points. It's about political theater. It's clearly not about problem-solving, and it's obviously not about public safety."
Score political points. That's exactly what Trump is trying to do, but he could be in for a rude awakening. If his intention is to scare people so they will vote for him, it will be exactly the opposite for many Americans.
Already wary of this would-be dictator, these gestapo-type tactics will only intensify that concern and fear and lead to his absolute defeat on election day.