With only a few days left until the Nov. 6 election, the United States has descended into a truly terrifying place, one that offers starkest glimpse yet of what the country could look like under another two years of unchecked Trumpism.
Pipe bombs being sent through the mail to the households of former presidents and the offices of other prominent Democratic donors and officials, including one reportedly addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris that was intercepted at a Postal Service building in south Sacramento on Friday, and two others sent to Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles.
An environment in which conspiracy theories are so readily floated and believed that fringe ideas about the bombs being the “false flag tactics of unhinged leftists” and not allegedly the work of Cesar Sayoc Jr., a registered Republican who was arrested Friday in Florida, are now full-blown narratives on social media.
And, most of all, a sitting president who refuses to accept responsibility for his divisive rhetoric — or even lay off of it — even though he has targeted all of the potential victims for ridicule — and worse — at his campaign rallies and on Twitter.
“A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Donald Trump tweeted Thursday, pointing fingers elsewhere after more suspicious packages turned up for former Vice President Joe Biden and Trump critic Robert De Niro. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
Voters can’t let themselves be distracted by the events of the past few days. More than the threat of apparently partisan-motivated violence and the words of a president that have inflamed it, it’s how voters respond on Nov. 6 that matters most.
Nowhere is this more true than in California, where a handful of votes in a handful of congressional races could very well determine the political shelf-life of Trumpism.
Democrats need to capture a net 23 seats to regain control of the House. That would allow the party to put a much-needed check on some of the president’s most egregious policies — undermining initiatives to curb climate change, wading into complex water policy decisions, and punishing both documented and undocumented immigrants.
The good news is that a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 55 percent of likely voters support Democratic congressional candidates and 37 percent back Republicans.
And in the 11 districts that the Cook Political Report lists as competitive, nine are currently held by Republicans, and voters are divided 49 percent for Republican candidates and 44 percent for Democratic candidates. The turnout among Latino voters, who could sway the outcome of the election for Democrats, will be key.
California voters certainly have good reasons to contribute to the so-called blue wave. In addition to the Trump administration’s routine attacks on the state’s policy priorities, more recently the president has turned California into a rhetorical punching bag on the campaign trail as he tries to scare voters over immigration.
At a recent rally in Arizona, for example, he told the crowd: “That’s why Democrats want to give illegal immigrants the right to vote. How about in California, where illegal immigrants took over the town council, and now the town council is run by illegal immigrants in the town! I mean, is this even believable?”
In Nevada, he said: “I don’t think we like sanctuary cities up here. By the way, a lot of people in California don’t want them, either. They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities. You know, there’s a big turn being made, folks.”
In Texas, he insisted that lots of undocumented immigrants vote illegally in California. “They vote anyway, they’re not supposed to... They got so many people voting illegally in this country, it’s a disgrace.”
None of that is true.
Enough is enough. Nov. 6 is the time for California, the self-proclaimed home of “the resistance,” to put up or shut up.