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A race-baiting strategy

Melvin B. Miller

Trump is masterful at playing the race card. The skill requires that his comments or deeds be defensible as innocent of racism. For him to be branded an outright bigot would not help his worldly image. But Trump is certainly aware that about half of his supporters have negative attitudes toward blacks. Several polls have established this fact. With his former assumption of the leadership of the “birther” movement to challenge Barack Obama’s constitutional legitimacy to be president, Trump demonstrated a willingness to be the regent of the racists.

Trump’s strategy has been to demean or disparage blacks. In an attempt to rebut the criticism that his campaign has failed to attract black support, Trump said at a rally last June, referring to one black in attendance, “Oh, look at my African American over here. Look at him.” Apparently, the black referred to was not offended, but many African Americans around the country believe that the encounter was insensitive and inappropriate.

Many Americans of all races also find that Trump’s critical comparison of Barack Obama with Vladimir Putin is totally unacceptable. There is no need for Trump to disparage the nation’s president in the process of expressing support for a foreign leader. Obama is not Trump’s political opponent. With the record of failure under Putin in Russia, how can Trump assert that Putin is a strong leader, “far more than our president has been a leader”?

The record does not support Trump’s comparison. The Russian economy fell in 2015. Wages were down but inflation rose. The value of the ruble declined about 125 percent. Foreign capital fled the country.

On the contrary, during Obama’s tenure unemployment fell from 7.8 percent to 4.9 percent. The Affordable Care Act added 32 million citizens to the health insurance rolls. Federal action rescued the auto industry. A $787 billion stimulus package saved banks and many other businesses. Obama ended the war in Iraq while Putin created armed conflict by seizing Crimea from the Ukraine.

Trump’s comparison is vastly unsubstantiated. It only serves as a play of the race card to assure the bigots among his followers that he is on their side of the race issue.