Just a few days before the midterm elections take place across the country, Donald Trump said that U.S. troops being deployed along the southern border should treat rocks thrown by migrants as firearms attacks.
“Consider it a rifle,” he said. “When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military police, consider it a rifle.”
The next day, Trump tried to walk back those comments, telling reporters that if agents or soldiers “are going to be hit in the face with rocks, we’re going to arrest those people. That doesn’t mean shoot them.”
This is another instance of Trump using what’s called a trial balloon, or a statement made to see how a new policy will be received by the broader public. Examples of this are Trump joking about being President for life or threatening to end birthright citizenship via executive action, which would violate the 14th amendment.
These type of outrageous actions by Trump and his enablers are meant to further shift the overtone window to the right. They confuse the public as to what Trump can and can’t actually do. Is Trump really able to override constitutional authority via executive order? Of course not, but he will continue to blur lines and create gray areas, in an attempt to maximize his executive power at the expense of our democratic institutions.
One doesn’t have to research far to see Trump’s numerous unconstitutional and authoritarian tendencies. Barring Muslims from coming into this country on the basis of their religion. Violating foreign and domestic emolument clauses due to his failure to divest his business holdings. Threatening to withhold federal money from jurisdictions that refuse to comply with his anti-immigrant crackdown. Obstruction of justice.
The GOP has done little to rein in Trump’s worst instincts. Whether it’s the Russia investigation or his affinity for conspiracies and hate speech, Republicans in Congress constantly cover for him. Just two Saturdays ago, an anti-Semite in Pittsburgh shot and killed 11 people in a synagogue after hearing Trump repeat the conspiracy that the migrant caravan of poor people coming from Honduras is being financed by George Soros as some sort of invasion against the United States. That same weekend a Trump supporter mailed bombs to Democratic party leaders and media outlets.
In my home state of Florida, Ron DeSantis is running for Governor of Florida as a mini-Trump. He got the endorsement of the President after repeatedly going into Fox News during his primary election to discredit the Mueller investigation. He released an ad in which he teaches his children how to build a wall, reads them Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” and dresses them in MAGA clothes. Just recently, he said he agrees that we should end birthright citizenship.
Ron DeSantis is Trump’s apprentice. He would be disastrous for Florida.
On the other side is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the son of a bus driver and construction worker, who put himself through college and is now running to be the first black governor of Florida and first Democrat to hold that position in two decades. He supports Medicare for All, common sense gun control, raising the minimum wage to $15 hour, protecting immigrant families, investing in public education, the right to form a union, and protecting our environment.
Andrew Gillum represents a path forward for Florida’s working class families.
I will vote for Andrew Gillum for Florida governor but I will also vote against any Republican on the ballot. If a Republican in a district in which you reside claims to not support Trump, don’t believe them. One only has to look at Representative Carlos Curbelo in Miami-Dade County as an example of someone who claims to hold Trump accountable, yet votes with his agenda 84% of the time.
Republicans have lacked leadership and substance during the Trump era. They don’t deserve to be in office and they don’t deserve your vote.
Thomas Kennedy is the Political Director for FLIC Votes and a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change Action. He tweets from @Tomaskenn.