By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
Leading up to and following the Republican National Convention, the president began implementing what will be a major component of his bid to win re-election: casting himself as the “law and order” president who can and will shut down and lock away those who are protesting in the streets for justice for Black people and an end to state-sanctioned violence.
“I am the law and order president,” he has said, echoing the words of Richard Nixon, arguably the most corrupt president of the 20th century, but who was forced to resign the presidency because of his own lawlessness.
“Law and order,” as spouted by Nixon and now by this president is a code phrase, meant to alert White people that those pesky Black people who are causing such unrest must be dealt with. Sounding like Benito Mussolini as he was rising in his bid to become a dictator in Italy, the president has said, “I alone can fix this.”
He is also making a not-so-subtle plea to “suburban housewives,” another code phrase which refers to White college-educated women, according to The New York Times. They should be afraid, he says, because “they” are coming to your neighborhoods. “They” will make your property value go down. “They” are, of course, Black people.
It is a script that has been used before and is apparently having an effect on some White people who are inclined to be afraid of Black people. The support for Black Lives Matter in Wisconsin, for example, has decreased since the violence following the shooting of Jacob Blake, The Washington Post reported.
As we watch this race and fear-baiting campaign take shape, I wonder what the strategy will be to combat it on the part of the Democrats. America is never far from her racism; the cries of some, as hateful vitriol and dangerous rhetoric has increased has been “this is not who we are.” But that is false. This is exactly who we are and who we have been, only emboldened in this way because of a president who has won the respect and support of those who are willing to be honest in their feelings.
What should the Democrats do? Do they go onto the court of the Trump followers (I can no longer call these supporters “Republican” without putting a label on all Republicans) or should they try to ignore the racism and gaslighting and continue to build a campaign on the suffering of people due to the mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent ruination of the American economy?
We already know that this president thrives on stoking racial division and fear. In his first bid for the presidency, he denounced Mexicans and Muslims and the Latinx community in ways that were shocking to many, but it worked for him. The more he put down non-White people, the more hard-right Conservatives loved him. He knew they would. He knew not only that he would gain the support of his “base,” but also that the base was far deeper and wider than the media was ready to admit.
Perhaps he, like so many White people, was spooked by reports that by 2046, the United States will no longer be a majority White nation. Some have said that the policies and practices being put into action in this administration demonstrates a commitment to necropolitics, a practice where those in power attempt to cement their sovereignty by controlling the races and ethnicities that are allowed to flourish, as noted in a Wesleyan University report. A recent ABC11 report stated that North Carolina carried out policies that amounted to genocide of Black people from 1958-1968.
No person in the administration will ever admit to such atrocious thinking, but it certainly appears that the Trump engine has a plan that is and will continue to be, based on exploiting the reality of America called white supremacy and racism.
The question is, what will or what should, the Democrats do?
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.