Trump’s Reelection Strategy? Urban Fascism

“It stings. It’s hard to breathe. And I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response. It’s nasty stuff. I’m not afraid, but I am pissed off…This is an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, After Being Tear-Gassed in a Crowd of Protesters 

Over the past couple of weeks, the world has witnessed Drumpf’s dangerous descent into domestic terrorism. In early July, he sent a vicious paramilitary force to Portland. They have blindfolded protesters and carried them away in unmarked vehicles, broken people’s bones, and tear-gassed a Wall of Moms. What had been a handful of remaining Black Lives Matter protesters outside of Portland’s Federal Courthouse has now swelled into the thousands. The people are standing up against this brutal occupying force.

The Feds Tear-Gassing Protesters, AP Image Credit Noah Berger (Portland, Oregon)

I don’t use the term “fascism” lightly, but Trump has earned it by the expression of a few key elements:

  • Having a dictator or authoritarian leader
  • Supporting extreme nationalism (often with a racial or ethnic component)
  • Suppressing opposition

After several excruciating years of the Trump presidency, we can safely say his administration meets all of the above criteria. 

And Trump’s motives for this federal invasion are transparent: he’s trying to win reelection by instigating violence within our most progressive cities. Sending his DHS thugs in riot gear is provocative and city-dwellers are rightfully enraged. Nobody invited them to be here.

Protester Shot by the Feds, Donovan LaBella, Image From The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon)

Over this past week, I’ve had several spirited debates on social media with folks who live far away from Portland. People in Texas, California, and rural Washington claim to know what’s best for my state’s largest city. Although conservatives and rural voters are usually concerned about state’s rights, many are applauding Trump’s federal overreach in the occupation of liberal cities. They shared these thoughts:

  • “So you mean to say, with all of the violent rioters out there, these feds rolled up and took out the peaceful protestors?”
  • “And why when black people are getting killed by other black people are you not protesting that?”
  • “Do you really believe that these protestors are all innocent and the big bad police are causing the riots! My God … All to take down Trump! Disgusting!!!!”

These misperceptions of the Black Lives Matter Movement are fed by a myopic and sensationalist media. Although Oregon Public Broadcasting has done an exceptional job covering BLM in my state, most major networks have flattened the narrative and focus on incidents of destruction. Media executives know that Americans will tune into content that’s disturbing or savage—but they are doing the public a dangerous disservice by amplifying isolated atrocities and ignoring the mission of the Movement. When FOX, CNN, and other companies only follow the smoke, graffiti, and broken windows—“if it bleeds, its leads”—Trump hopes that suburban and rural Americans will be frightened into voting for his law and order agenda.


Trump would rather not talk about the unemployment rate, his shameless corruption, his multiple rape allegations, his inhumane imprisonment of Latin American children, or his failed COVID-19 response, which has led to the death of 143,000 Americans and counting (CDC July 24, 2020).

There’s a historical precedent for Trump’s campaign tactics. In 1968, Richard Nixon ran on a law and order platform. When he accepted the GOP nomination, he stated, “As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night.” This is the image Trump is trying to sell us: a country being attacked from within by the radical Left. 

This is manipulative and absurd. How are we attacking the country? Are we ravaging the nation with our anti-racism, Medicare for All, Green New Deal, and Farmers’ Markets? Are we really destroying the country by trying to make education, healthcare, and housing more affordable for all Americans? 

Progressives don’t support the violence; we’re protesting against racism and police brutality—and isn’t it ironic how our movement is met with indelible proof to our point.

July 2020: The Wall of Moms, Getty Images, Published in The Rolling Stone, (Portland, Oregon)

In an earlier era, there were Americans who stood up for the rights of property, and those who defended the rights of people; those who supported slaveowners, and abolitionists who fought for the humanity of our Black citizens. 

The GOP and Trump prefer to not discuss the lethal racism of law enforcement and the death of George Floyd. They prefer not to acknowledge the dozens of peaceful protesters and journalists who have been critically injured by aggressive crowd dispersion tactics: rubber bullets, batons, tear gas, steel-toed boots, and fists. They prefer, instead, to stand up for the rights of lifeless buildings with insurance policies. They are more concerned about property than the blood of our Black citizens on the hands of police officers.

I feel for the small business owners who have to rebuild—but my heart shatters for the families of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, and Ahmaud Arbery, among so many others. 

I also fear what will happen in Chicago, Albuquerque, and other progressive cities Trump plans to occupy with his goons in army fatigues. He’s flexing the military in places he knows won’t vote for him. I’d like to ask Americans in the suburbs and rural heartland: if an aggressive federal force descended on your town without permission or invitation, how would you react?

Naked Athena, Image Credit Unknown (Portland, Oregon)

2 Replies to “Trump’s Reelection Strategy? Urban Fascism”

  1. Thank you, J. And maybe you listened to today’s episode of OPB’s Think Out Loud, which had a brief but good discussion of the protests and fascist response by federal forces. The 3 commentators were in agreement about many issues, most notably that Wheeler and city council are failures. Should we be surprised? We are in the US of A, with our long history of lies and oppression.

    1. Wheeler got a taste of his own medicine. He supported the use of tear gas for crowd dispersion up to this point. Thanks for weighing in.

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