Donald Trump is the accelerant

“Trump’s messaging on January 6 is precisely in line with how he’s historically addressed violence on the part of hate groups and his supporters: He emboldens it.

As far back as 2015, Trump has been connected to documented acts of violence, with perpetrators claiming that he was even their inspiration. In fact, almost five dozen people, according to reports from the Guardian and ABC News, have enacted violence in Trump’s name.

In 2016, a white man told officers “Donald Trump will fix them” while being arrested for threatening his Black neighbors with a knife. That same year, a Florida man threatened to burn down a house next to his because a Muslim family purchased it, claiming that Trump’s Muslim ban made it a reason for “concern.” Then there are the more widely known examples, like Cesar Sayoc, who mailed 16 inoperative pipe bombs to Democratic leaders and referred to Trump as a “surrogate father”; and the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 that left 23 dead, where the shooter’s manifesto parroted Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants.

In some cases, Trump denounces the violence, but he often walks back such statements, returning to a message of hate and harm. In August, he defended a teenage supporter who shot three people at a Black Lives Matter protest. And at the first presidential debate of the 2020 election, President Donald Trump shocked many viewers when he was given an opportunity to condemn white supremacists but declined. In October, he equivocated on condemnation of the domestic terrorists who allegedly planned to violently kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Instead, he criticized Whitmer and fished for compliments.

Trump has continually refused to recognize what’s at the core of this violence: hate nurtured under a tense national climate that he has helped cultivate.

Trump’s campaign rallies have always been incubation grounds for violence, the sites where Trump spewed hate speech that encouraged physical harm against dissenters. And as president, he has used his platform to encourage violence against American citizens, whether through the police and National Guard or militia groups — unless those citizens are his supporters.”

“One of the clearest moments Trump refused to denounce violence, and thereby encourage it, was when he equated the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, as part of a “Unite the Right” rally with the leftist protesters who demonstrated against them. During the rally, a Nazi sympathizer drove a car into a crowd of anti-racism counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The evening before, on August 11, the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups marched at the University of Virginia, carrying lit tiki torches and chanting anti-Semitic slogans, in response to the impending removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.”

“Trump’s very first response to the events in Charlottesville was to condemn violence on the part of many players, while initially refusing to even mention the presence of white supremacist groups. In a short statement issued Saturday evening, Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

That same night, he tweeted condolences to Heyer’s family but made no mention of who was responsible for the violence. Trump called for there to be “a study” to understand what happened in Charlottesville.

On the Tuesday following the weekend rally, Trump infamously said, “You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides.”

The president also attempted to identify the “good people” in the sea of white nationalists that weekend: “You had people and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. … You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.””

“A 39-year-old Montana man was charged with felony assault for choking, slamming, and fracturing the skull of a 13-year-old boy who didn’t take his hat off for the national anthem. The man’s attorney told the local newspaper that Trump’s “rhetoric” led to the violent act. “His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” the lawyer said, referencing Trump’s harsh words against athletes like Colin Kaepernick who protested for social justice.”

“A 61-year-old Milwaukee man was arrested and charged with a felony hate crime after allegedly throwing acid at a Peruvian American who was walking to a Mexican restaurant. The perpetrator accused the victim of being inside the country illegally, asking him, “Why you invade my country?” and “Why don’t you respect my laws?” before attacking him. When police searched the perpetrator’s home, they found three letters addressed to Donald Trump. The victim suffered second-degree burns.”

“On the day that Congress moved to certify the 2020 presidential election results confirming Biden as the winner, Trump encouraged thousands of his supporters to dispute vote counts. At an outdoor rally, Trump turned on Republicans who refused to support his efforts to overturn the election results, calling them weak, and urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results.

Trump told listeners, “You will never take back our country with weakness.” (Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani also delivered a speech in which he encouraged “trial by combat.”) Hours of violence followed the speech when supporters stormed the US Capitol, as well as state capitols across the country. Capitol Police fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter, as she and others tried to breach the halls of the Senate. Three others are said to have died. Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a city-wide curfew beginning at 6 pm, and few people were arrested, though many rioters violated the restriction.”

To achieve racial justice, America’s broken democracy must be fixed

“The Senate and Electoral College systematically underweight the votes of people of color — and the judiciary operates directly downstream of those biases. Washington, DC, home to the largest plurality of Black Americans in the country, is excluded entirely from federal representation. The filibuster has historically been used to block or delay anti-lynching laws and civil rights legislation”

“Since 2000, 40 percent of presidential elections have been won by the loser of the popular vote. A 2019 study found that Republicans should be expected to win 65 percent of presidential contests in which they narrowly lose the popular vote, and could potentially win while losing the popular vote by as much as 6 percentage points. And this November, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver calculates that Democratic nominee Joe Biden only has a 6 percent chance of winning the Electoral College if he wins the popular vote by 0 to 1 points, a 22 percent chance if he wins by 1 to 2 points, and less than a 50 percent chance if he wins by 2-3 points.”

“The Senate is even more extreme. In a 2019 Data for Progress analysis, Colin McAuliffe found that the Senate has a 3 percentage point tilt toward Republicans (double the 1.5 percent skew in the Electoral College). And that is probably an understatement — Silver recently calculated that the Senate is “effectively 6 to 7 percentage points redder than the country as a whole.” As my colleague Matt Yglesias points out, in 2014, Republican candidates won 52 percent of the popular Senate vote and gained nine Senate seats; in 2016, Democrats won 54 percent of the vote and gained only two seats; and in 2018, Democrats won 54 percent of the vote and lost two seats.

“Because the president appoints federal judges and the Senate confirms them, these biases are also reflected in the judiciary, where the Trump administration has already filled federal court benches with an unprecedented number of young, highly ideological conservative judges, including two Supreme Court justices.
It’s important to underscore the mechanism that generates and sustains this partisan bias: US political institutions systematically underweight the interests of nonwhite Americans.”

“Analyzing the results of the 2016 presidential election, statisticians Andrew Gelman and Pierre-Antoine Kremp found that “per voter, whites have 16 percent more power than blacks once the Electoral College is taken into consideration, 28 percent more power than Latinos, and 57 percent more power than those who fall into the other category.”

Behind the Senate’s partisan tilt is that it overrepresents people living in small states who tend to be whiter, on average, than people living in larger states. California, which has large Black and brown populations, and Wyoming, a predominantly white state, have equal representation in the Senate, despite the former having over 60 times more people than the latter.”

“this racial skew distorts policy preferences on issues ranging from gun control to the minimum wage to environmental policy. For instance, 48 percent of Americans believe controlling gun ownership is more important than protecting gun rights; however, when you weigh voter preferences as the Senate does — giving equal representation to each state — support for gun control drops a whopping 5 points, to 43 percent.
Why? Because the Senate overweights the preferences of white Americans, who tend to favor gun rights, and underweights the preferences of Black and brown Americans, who tend to favor gun control. By that same mechanism, McAuliffe finds that support for a $15 minimum wage also drops 5 points (from 58 to 53 percent), and a $100 billion yearly investment in green social housing drops 3 points (63 to 60 percent).”

“This is the status quo that Just Democracy’s coalition members aim to change — and they have a few proposals to do so.”