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Trump calls journalists the “enemy of the people” and the Saudi government interprets it as a green light to chop up the Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in its consulate in Istanbul. He rants and tweets about George Soros backing liberal causes and one of his fanatic supporters sends a mail bomb to Mr. Soros’s home.

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The actor Robert De Niro antagonizes Trump in public and he too gets a pipe bomb mailed to him. A riled up racist in Kentucky plots a mass shooting at an African-American church only to later shoot and kill two black people inside a Kroger grocery store.

Fox,Breitbart,The Daily Caller and other right-wing “news” outlets stoke fear and terror in the hearts of their viewers and readers of the Honduran families fleeing violence and poverty in their homeland. Trump capitalizes on the xenophobia by using the U.S. military as a stage prop sending thousands of troops to the southern border to hold off the hoards that are 800 miles away.

Going into the 2018 midterm elections, Trump has deliberately created such a toxic political environment that an aggrieved and hate-filled middle-aged white man took it upon himself to attack a historic synagogue in Pittsburgh killing 11 worshipers, thereby committing the most destructive attack aimed at the American Jewish community in U.S. history.

And after every elected official anywhere near Pittsburgh shunned him, Trump still went there anyway for a photo-op in which he pretended to be a president. Five thousand people protested Trump’s presence and made it clear that his brand of hatred was not welcome in their community.

After the MAGABomber episode and while the mourners from the Tree of Life synagogue were still sitting Shiva and burying their dead, Trump read bland boilerplate condemnations of the crime from a teleprompter in a soft tone that everybody knows indicates his words are meaningless.

It makes no difference if his words come in the form of a tweet, or from an official White House setting, or a speech before his salivating fans at one of his Nuremberg rallies, his words, all of his words, have the power of the office of the U.S. presidency behind them.

And then he snapped right back to fueling the hatred he supposedly decried by tweeting out to his 50 million followers the most racist anti-Latino attack ad we’ve seen in the last thirty years of American political history. In Sacramento, we know the cop killer featured in the ad. It was in our region where he ended his murderous crime spree. We also knew that it was only a matter of time before Trump and the Republicans would shamelessly exploit this local tragedy to try to score political points. This type of racist propaganda debases our political discourse.

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It’s astonishing to see Trump apologists and surrogates, including Vice President Mike Pence, claim the president’s words don’t matter, or that we should simply ignore his immature, hate-filled and mean-spirited tweets.

But the president’s words do matter.

They matter more than any other single individual in the United States. It makes no difference if his words come in the form of a tweet, or from an official White House setting, or a speech before his salivating fans at one of his Nuremberg rallies, his words, all of his words, have the power of the office of the U.S. presidency behind them. Mike Pence knows this fact as does every historian in the country.

When Kellyanne or Pence or other gas-lighters claim the president’s unremitting and calculated projection of racial and ethnic hatred has no effect on our political discourse they are doing lasting damage to American democracy as we know it.

It’s beyond ironic that Trump chose to give one of his jingoistic anti-immigrant tirades in the “Roosevelt Room” in the White House standing before a portrait of Theodor Roosevelt. It was T.R. who invented the term “bully pulpit” recognizing the unique power of the president’s words to move people to action. Trump’s words have contributed to a political climate that has now cost the lives of at least thirteen innocent people.

Republican talking points claim equivalency between individuals interrupting Sara Huckabee’s dinner at a high-end restaurant or confronting a Republican senator in an elevator with sending lethal mail bombs or committing mass murder at a synagogue. They say they want “civility.” But when the president communicates to the country in a manner that would earn an elementary school child a reprimand he sets a tone that makes all calls for “civility” meaningless.

Trump and the Republicans’ attacks on basic decency will not end until and unless they are met with a firm rebuke from voters. These horrible men who have hijacked our country must be repudiated at the polls on Tuesday or the hatred will continue to metastasize unchecked and more innocent blood will be shed.

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Joseph Palermo
Joseph Palermo's Blog