After being caught on tape bragging about sexual assault, Trump plans trip to Maine
Another hateful, self-pitying thug is trying to implicate Maine in his reign of terror, and we need to stop him.
Eric Trump visited Maine’s Second Congressional District last week, and, as of this writing, his father is scheduled to make a second visit to Bangor in the days ahead. We know that these visitations are upon us because the 2nd District is somehow in play, and there has even been talk that this situation suggests that Trump could take the whole state on November 8th. The Trump campaign has viewed Maine voters as a worthwhile investment, but why?
One of the major indicators of likely support for the Republican candidate is gender. A recent poll in the Los Angeles Times showed Trump with a 17% lead among male voters and Hillary Clinton with a nine percent lead among women (other polls demonstrate an even bigger gender gap). Men don’t significantly outnumber women in the 2nd District, though; in fact, they’re slightly outnumbered, and the hateful quotes from Trump’s past that have recently emerged should further divide Trump from women voters and any male voters who believe in human dignity.
The Trump campaign has emphasized a narrative of overall economic decline; have Mainers drifted to Trump’s message because of their own hard times? If so, that’s a mistake on their part; Trump’s economic policies seem more likely to worsen, rather than improve the situation. Even assuming he “renegotiates” the major trade legislation of the last two or three decades, the jobs he promises to return to blue collar America don’t really exist any more. His plan to provide more, and more massive, tax breaks to the very wealthy, meanwhile, would in no way improve employment opportunities or governmental services and infrastructure in our state.
In any case, the belief by Trump voters that they are experiencing economic collapse is a central part of his campaign, even if the reality is more complicated. Data collected by the New York Times suggests that Trump voters are not as “working class” as their stereotype suggests; the median household income for Trump voters is over $70,000, which is higher than the Democratic average and considerably higher than the 2nd District median of $44,560.
No, I imagine the primary category that places Maine voters in Trump’s sights is race. Trump began his campaign with the most explicitly racist rollout since Ronald Reagan went to Philadelphia, Mississippi. Since that opening speech – and yes, I am whipping out that Mexican thing again – Trump has been selling a narrative of racial panic and white decline. Even his purported “outreach” to African American voters, his argument that black and Latino Americans are “living in hell,” and thus should support him, seems to actually be a message directed at his white base: that non-white neighborhoods prefigure the fate that will await them if they don’t turn to him for rescue. (It certainly can’t be a genuine attempt to win votes from blacks and Latinos, in any case.)
White people in Maine have had a trumpy Jeremiah telling them a version of Trump’s story about race for six years now. Governor LePage has primed the voters of the 2nd District with threats of racial apocalypse. While trying to deny treatment and even Narcan to Mainers suffering from the opioid epidemic, he has provided his supporters with other villains, in the form of black New Yorkers named D-Money, Smoothie, and Shifty. Wielding a binder that proves the exact opposite of his thesis, he has assured Mainers that the heroin trade is the product of “people of color and Hispanics,” the “enemy” in a shooting war on drugs. He has identified the presence of mixed race children as a problem for the state. And when he hasn’t blamed our problems on black New Yorkers, he has characterized refugees as “illegal immigrants,” and blamed them for a crime epidemic that our chiefs of police say does not exist. And, of course, by opposing Medicaid expansion, by cutting vital state services, and by a veto-happy politics of pique, he has actually helped to make our state closer to the dystopia that he seems to believe existed before his election. Trump is attracted to our state, I believe, because our chief executive has already been using political messaging and policy-making to convince voters to believe in the sort of doomed society that Trump promises to protect us from, and he has even convinced many of those voters to help him do it.
And then, last Friday, we heard Trump’s message on the place of women in his vision of America. Just in time for his next visit to our state – a state that may give him an electoral vote for president and vote down a gun control measure that actually stands to reduce our appalling rate of domestic homicide – Trump has been publicly revealed as a smug advocate of sexual assault. “I don’t even wait,” to force himself on women he finds attractive, Trump boasted to entertainment news drone Billy Bush. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” In the face of general condemnation, Trump whined while delivering a non-apologetic apology (a classic LePage maneuver). “I never said I’m a perfect person,” he blustered, as he called the reaction to the recording of his confession a “distraction from the issues we are facing today.”
The fact that the man who commands the unswerving support of the National Rifle Association considers sexual assault to be “a distraction from the issues we are facing today” speaks volumes; just observe the coordinated attempt to defeat a modest gun control measure that has won the support of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. For the last two years, over half of the homicides in Maine have arisen from domestic abuse, but the campaign against Question 3 has provided a drum beat of invented fears over national gun registries and gun czars “from away.”
Donald Trump thinks that, like Paul LePage before him, he can help to make life in Maine worse and then win support by promising to save us from his dystopia. This time, we must refuse to be complicit in the career of a monster. On November 8th (or, ideally, before then) vote Yes on Question 3, vote Yes for Hillary Clinton, and vote No on politicians who have based their careers on representing fear, hatred, and violence.
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