This question is for the more than half a million Utahns out there — 515,231, to be exact — who voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
I’m just curious. Is there anything this president could possibly say that would make you change your vote in the 2020 election? I mean, anything?
I’m not trying to pick a fight here. Honest. I’m just genuinely attempting to understand where — or even if — that line in the sand exists.
Seriously. At what point might you as a Republican voter say, “Surely there’s someone else out there who shares my conservative political beliefs without consistently going against every one of my deeply ingrained personal beliefs about things like morality, civility and kindness.”
Now, as a columnist, I freely admit that I’ve had to pace myself with Mr. Trump. If I went after every horrible thing our president says, I wouldn’t have time to write about anything else. So I’ve promised myself that I’ll only comment when his words are so objectionable, so beyond the pale of politics-as-usual, that even a jaded journalist like me is shocked.
It happened last Sunday. The day our president tweeted a racist lie about four members of the United States Congress.
Lest you accuse me of putting words in his mouth, here’s the tweet in its entirety:
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....
....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
Trump’s words were immediately labeled racist. And just as quickly, Trump supporters insisted he was merely using the tried-and-true “America: Love It or Leave It” argument.
Except he wasn’t just saying you should love America or leave America. Because what he actually did was to imply these four women of color aren’t Americans. At least, not like you and me.
And that IS straight-up racism.
Pay close attention, people, because words matter. Note that Trump’s tweet claimed these four Congresswomen “originally came from” other countries. Which, except for one, is simply not true.
But wait, there’s more! Because Trump then doubled down on his lie later in the tweet by going on to say that the four should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” — again, not-so-subtly implying that these minority women are not from here like the rest of us.
Make no mistake, this isn’t about disagreeing with these four women or their politics. Plenty of Americans on both sides of the aisle can and do vehemently disagree with them without stooping to Trump’s go-back-to-your-own-sh--hole-country dog whistling.
The tweet was factually wrong, it was morally wrong, and 515,231 Utahns should really stop making excuses for its author.
The thing is, by now Trump has been caught in so many outright lies, falsehoods and fabrications that even he doesn’t know when he’s left truth in the dust.
The latest example? At a recent campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the four Congresswomen alluded to in his tweet. As he spoke, supporters in the crowd began chanting the despicable “Send her back.”
Later, questioned by a reporter about why he didn’t ask them to stop, Trump answered: “Well, No. 1, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly.”
But here’s the thing. He didn’t.
Video footage of the rally shows the chant starting up as Trump talks about Omar. He then finishes his thought and pauses, standing in silence for a full 12 seconds — I counted — while the crowd continues to chant. It’s not until after the chanting peters out on its own and stops completely that Trump waits a beat and begins vilifying Omar again.
So no, despite his false claim, Trump didn’t try to stop his racist supporters from shouting their racist chant.
I will concede that in this day and age plenty of Americans across the political spectrum have become uncivil to one another. But Trump supporters seem to think that the bully is being bullied, when more than anyone Trump has been responsible for this divisive, us-vs.-them mentality in America.
Think about it. Before Trump, can you ever recall a sitting president publicly calling one of his fellow Americans a “total loser,” or “weak and pathetic”? How about using schoolyard taunts like “head clown,” “horseface,” or “dumb as a rock”?
Could you even conceive of such a thing coming out of the commander-in-chief’s mouth before Trump came along?
And yet today, in Trump’s America, the president can utter any old mocking, mean-spirited, racist lie that comes to mind and there are absolutely no consequences — political or otherwise.
So, to the 515,231 predominantly white Utahns who voted for Trump the first time around — and whom I fear will continue to turn a blind eye to his incessant un-presidential behavior — is there not one among you who has become sufficiently queasy about the way this man continues to use coarse, hateful language to disgrace the office to which he was elected?
As Americans, at what point do you begin holding Trump accountable for inexcusable tweets like the one last Sunday?
When he tells YOU to go back to Europe?