The 2018 midterm elections have turned into a referendum on President Donald Trump. He has made sure of that by holding dozens of campaign rallies all over the country.
But the elections will also be a referendum on his brazen campaign strategy, where he has taken lying to an entirely new level.
In every rally he tells 35 – 40 falsehoods. His crowds seem to believe everything he says, although almost nothing that he says is true.
“His gamble is that this will work,” said David Axelrod, who was Barack Obama’s campaign strategist. “Certainly the veracity doesn’t bother him, and the optics don’t bother him. The only thing that would bother him is losing.”
“Him ratcheting up to a new level of histrionics and fear, the question is, ‘Is there a point of diminishing returns?’ ” Axelrod added. “Do these tactics offend some people but also appear so contrived that even some who are inclined to vote for Republicans say, you lost me here?”
As Phil Rucker from The Washington Post wrote this morning:
“President Trump is painting an astonishingly apocalyptic vision of America under Democratic control in the campaign’s final days, unleashing a torrent of falsehoods and portraying his political opponents as desiring crime, squalor and poverty.”
“As voters prepare to render their first verdict on his presidency in Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump is claiming that Democrats want to erase the nation’s borders and provide sanctuary to drug dealers, human traffickers and MS-13 killers. He is warning that they would destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere. And he is alleging that they would transform the United States into Venezuela with socialism run amok.”
Rucker then adds,
“Trump has taken his no-boundaries political ethos to a new level — demagoguing the Democrats in a whirl of distortion and using the power of the federal government to amplify his fantastical arguments.”
Here are some specific examples of Trump’s recent lies:
- He said that Democrats “run around like antifa” demonstrators in black uniforms and black helmets, but underneath, they have “this weak little face” and “go back home into mommy’s basement.”
- He called predatory immigrants “the worst scum in the world” but accused Democrats of welcoming them by saying, “Fly right in, folks. Come on in. We don’t care who the hell you are, come on in!”
- He said that if Democrat Stacey Abrams is elected governor of Georgia, she would take away the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In that lie he was insulting his audience by assuming that they were ignorant of the fact that governors can’t change the U.S. Constitution.
- He said there would be a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, which is untrue.
- He has inflamed fears over an imminent “invasion” of dangerous “illegal aliens,” referring to the caravan of Central American migrants in Mexico. (The caravan is walking over 1,000 miles and may never reach the U.S. border.)
Both Republican and Democratic candidates are frustrated that Trump has dictated the terms of the political debate in the final week of the campaign even though he is not up for reelection for two years.
“He goes out and says crazy, horrible things, blows race whistles and sits back and watches his topic of craziness dominate cable TV for the next 24 hours,” said Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a Trump critic. “Everybody repeats his charge, and then there’s a lot of pearl-clutching and tsk-tsking, and then repeating it again.”
“It’s really important not to take the bait from the president, with his scare-a-thon and his this-and-that,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an interview this weekend. “That diverts people from what is really important in their lives and how this election will make a difference.”
Trump’s presidency is on the line, and over recent weeks he has become increasingly desperate. If Democrats win the House majority they will use their subpoena power to begin many different investigations. The might even start impeachment proceedings.
“All his bad characteristics get amplified when he’s in a crunch,” Murphy said. “He doesn’t have any allegiance to the truth or reality to begin with, so he’s drunk on crowds, in a corner and under great political pressure.”
During the first 649 days of his presidency Donald Trump has told 6,420 lies. His rate of lying increased dramatically over the past month. He is truly a desperate man who believes that his lying will save him, but this is very unlikely to happen. And on Tuesday we will find out for sure that this is true.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.