Will ‘Send Her Back’ Be The Next ‘Lock Her Up’?
President Donald Trump’s supporters chanted ‘Send her back!‘ at a campaign rally Wednesday night. The crowd of the President’s most loyal supporters were echoing his tweets about Representative Ilhan Omar and other freshman Democrats, telling them to go back to the countries they came from.
Omar came to the US at 10 and is a naturalized American citizen while the other three members of ‘the Squad’ were all born on US soil. But that hasn’t mattered to Trump’s hardcore supporters. Republicans have rallied around Trump, claiming his tweets and subsequent comments weren’t racist.
Yet telling people of color to ‘go back to your own country’ is a standard racist trope – and to suggest otherwise is wilful ignorance. It now appears Trump will deploy openly racist rhetoric in his bid for re-election in 2020. However, the Trump campaign may be miscalculating.
During the 2016 election, Trump’s crowds repeatedly chanted ‘Lock her up!’ in reference to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. A central plank of Trump’s campaign was accusing Clinton of a whole host of crimes and promising to prosecute her. This did not happen.
With Clinton out of the picture, Trump has shifted his attacks to the four Democratic congresswomen and it seems his supporters approve. Nonetheless, Trump’s plan to use racial invective is unlikely to expand his base. In fact, he runs the risk of alienating crucial independent voters and suburban women – key voting blocs he needs to win.
But electoral calculus has rarely affected Trump’s public statements. He has already said many people liked what he said – certainly white nationalists in his base agree. If last night’s rally is anything to go by, the next year and a half will be even uglier than 2016.