Trump Escalates Authoritarian Tone in Milwaukee Rally

At Tuesday night’s campaign rally in Milwaukee, President Donald Trump spewed out false data and feral attacks on Democrats, dissenters, and immigrants that carried strongly authoritarian overtones.

Trump, addressing a packed house of more than 12,000 people at a downtown arena, lashed out ferociously at his recent impeachment by the House, calling it the “greatest hoax” ever perpetrated. He cast the Democrats as a malicious, disloyal force with sinister and destructive plans for the nation. 

The President smeared the Democrats as “traitors” on immigration, saying they displayed only “contempt, scorn, and disdain” for ordinary Americans’ perceptions. Trump claimed that the Democrats are more sympathetic to terrorists like Iran’s Qasem Suleimani than American troops.  

“The Democrats are outraged that we killed this terrorist monster,” he asserted, neglecting to clarify his own contradictory explanations for an attack that threatens to escalate into major conflicts across the Mideast.

Suggesting that the Democrats are essentially a poisonous threat to American security, Trump asserted, “They will destroy our nation.”

Suggesting that the Democrats are essentially a poisonous threat to American security, Trump asserted, “They will destroy our nation.” Opposition to the policies of Trump and the Republicans was starkly cast not as legitimate dissent, but a coiled menace ready to inject its venom into institutions at any moment.

Meanwhile, Trump portrayed the Republicans as a thoroughly American party rooted in the wholesome values and everyday concerns of ordinary Americans like those in Wisconsin, one of his most essential targets for reelection. 

“We are a working-class party,” proclaimed the billionaire President, whose biggest achievement has been tax breaks sewed toward corporations and the top 1 percent. “We believe that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the American way.”

Spurred on by the booming cheers of “U-S-A, U-S-A!” Trump modestly announced that he is presiding over “the greatest movement in the nation’s history.” The movement is succeeding, he assured his faithful followers. “We are taking back our country. We are going to keep on winning, winning, winning.

“We are one people, one country.” 


Along with his attacks targeting Democrats and immigrants, Trump made a number of outlandish claims about his accomplishments. Here are four examples:

Household income: Previously, Trump’s proud claim of a $5,000 income increase for American households during his administration was shown to be hugely exaggerated, nearly tripling what official statistics show on income. On Tuesday night, Trump doubled the size of his false claim: “Household incomes have risen $10,000.” Trump’s portrayal of rising incomes was inflated almost six times the actual figure.

The astonishingly false claim seems calculated to match his past promises of income gains of up to $9,000 per family flowing from his $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that were heavily skewed to corporations and the rich. With corporations largely using their enhanced revenues to buy back stock to lift profits rather than creating family-sustaining jobs, the economy has continued to generate deeper inequality. In fact, federal data shows that U.S. income inequality in 2018 reached the highest level since the Census Bureau began measuring it five decades ago.

The Wall with Mexico: Trump claimed swift progress on the project is being made. “Now we’re building a wall that has gone up and it’s gone up rapidly and very soon, we’ll be building about a mile a day, and we should be up to over 400 miles by next year. [By] the end of next year and shortly thereafter, it’ll be finished.” 

However, reporting by MSNBC and other outlets that showed there has been virtually no progress on the wall, with activity limited mainly to repairs on existing sections.

Protections for people with pre-existing conditions: Trump recently tweeted, “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions.” Trump repeated the claim Tuesday night, saying “We will protect pre-existing conditions like no one else.” 

But even as Trump is demanding credit for protecting health consumers on this front, his Justice Department is supporting a lawsuit that would wipe out protections against insurance corporations denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The Justice Department is aiming to settle the lawsuit only after the presidential election in order to avoid spotlighting Trump’s highly unpopular stance during the heat of the campaign.

Job creation: Trump managed to work in plenty of Wisconsin references, like saluting the surging Green Bay Packers. But he carefully avoided any mention of the flailing Foxconn development in southeastern Wisconsin. In 2017, Trump hailed the Taiwanese firm’s plans for a 13,000-worker plant  as the fulfillment of his presidency’s much-touted pledge to rebuild US manufacturing. 

Meanwhile, the Foxconn project is proving  increasingly disappointing and unpopular. The company, which has a long history of duplicity and broken promises, is falling embarrassingly short of the massive job production promised by what the president predicted would be “the Eighth Wonder of the World.”

More broadly, Wisconsin has suffered the second-largest manufacturing job loss in the past year, behind only Pennsylvania. It has also endured the largest number of farm bankruptcies of any state. 

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