Trump's Strategic Attack On Black Athletes

It's all part of the president's strategy to distract his base.
09/27/2017 10:55 am ET Updated Sep 27, 2017
Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

Don’t think for a second there isn’t a long-term strategy behind Donald Trump’s madness.

Trump doused gasoline on our nation’s culture war not long after dealmaking with Congressional Democratic leaders. That’s far from a coincidence.

Trump’s playing a twisted game that he hopes will earn him points from the middle while still pleasing a far-right base that was beginning to see through his lies.

Trump promised his base some sort of angry, alt-right version of Babylon — a wall to keep out Mexicans and an immigration policy that would Make America White Again.

But Trump also likes to make deals — and he’s getting nowhere with a divided Republican party that needs near uniformity to pass legislation without the help of Democrats.

Trump’s already shifted on the Dreamers and he’s threatened to work with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on health care policy. That’s not a bad thing — bipartisanship was once the norm in Washington.

But Trump is scared of losing his base. His fears are probably unfounded — do you really think an even farther-right Republican will challenge Trump in 2020? Yet in his mind that’s a possibility — so if he remains on the right with social issues he can move to the center on policy without alienating those who drove his campaign.

That explains why Trump went to Alabama last week and blasted NFL players. A few of them have been kneeling for the national anthem since last year, protesting police brutality against African Americans. The movement within the NFL was small and barely an issue this season. That’s until Trump resurrected it, playing the race card and turning black professional athletes into his new enemy.

Trump says it’s not about race but isn’t fooling those who are really paying attention. All of the protesters up until Trump’s Alabama speech were black. Many of these players came from nothing, excelled on and off the field and should be applauded for furthering the American dream. Instead, the president of the United States called them “son of a bitch.” He made them enemies and practically begged them to continue protesting so he could distract his base with a culture war. It’s dangerous and demented and it’s part of Trump’s strategy to solidify his base regardless of his ever-changing policy positions.

People are pawns to Trump. He doesn’t care if he’s crushing the hopes of young black children. If it benefits him politically, that’s a win.

If this were really about standing for the flag, Trump would urge the players to stop their protest while also engaging them — he would want to understand why they’re kneeing and what he can do to ease their pain. But this isn’t about the anthem or the flag. It’s about reminding his angry, white base that he’s on their side.

It’s all part of Trump’s plan.

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