Portland is a test… but only a test.
July 21, 2020
The Republican Trump administration has gone full authoritarian. Portland is a test, but only a test.
Donald Trump signaled his election strategy a few days ago when he talked about ending legislation passed back in the 1960s to support fair housing that he said had sent “people” out into “the suburbs.”
Essentially, what he was saying was, “White people in the suburbs, I’m doing what I can to keep your neighborhood white. You have to be very afraid of those Black and Hispanic people that Democrats say should be able to live anywhere in the country.”
Portland is overwhelmingly a majority white city, so he figured he could test out his Secret Police/Storm Trooper strategy here without anybody much noticing, as the action would not be so racialized.
But now he’s taking it to Chicago, a city with a more diverse population, and if he’s successful he’ll provoke a made-for-television appearance with white storm troopers battling Black residents.
That would be exactly the visual the Trump campaign is hoping for.
The most recent polls show that white people, particularly suburban white people, still support Trump: he’s trying to get them cranked up enough that every single last one of them will come out to vote for him.
In this regard, Trump appears to be following Richard Nixon’s 1968 “Southern Strategy,” perhaps even on the advice of former Nixon advisor Roger Stone. Provoke violence, make cities burn, and then promise to keep white people safe with “law and order.”
This is what authoritarians do. To seize political power, they don’t bring us together—they tear us apart.
And now, in anticipation of the election in a few months, the Trump administration is trying to make it harder to vote by mail, trying to explode the pandemic by forcing people back into the schools while fighting against funding for testing, all at the same time they’re sending out their secret police to provoke violence in our cities.
Trump’s Storm Troopers are coming to a city near you, and history shows that the most effective response will be non-violent. Here in Portland it was 300 moms, a middle-aged Navy veteran, and a stripper.
Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America and more than 25 other books in print.