When you’ve lived as long as I have, you get to see certain fads and trends come and go. Sometimes they get recycled and come back again.
Clothing styles go in and out of fashion. TV shows and movies get rebooted and re-imagined. And sometimes old campaign slogans get thawed out, reheated and served to us by politicians as well.
I definitely experienced a sense of déjà vu when I first heard that President Trump had tweeted an invitation to the four liberal Democratic congresswomen known as the Squad to leave our country and “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” if they don’t like how he is making America great again.
The president’s latest flight of jingoistic fancy took me back in time to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when I was but a lad and supporters of then-President Richard Nixon plastered their cars with “America, Love It or Leave It” bumper stickers.
Back then, the big bad Others were hippies protesting our involvement in the Vietnam conflict and do-gooders bellyaching about segregation. But the sentiments behind it were very much the same — that people who complain about this country and the man who currently sits in the White House need to go find another country to live in if they don’t like how we do things here.
Then, as now, the intended audience for the “love it or leave it” sentiment was mostly white, conservative and male. The demographic that has always held most of the power in this country, in other words, and don’t like the idea of it being challenged.
Which is why these four congresswomen — all outspoken, aggressive, and liberal-minded women of color — threaten Trump and men like him as much as they do. And it’s why he has singled them out for derision and painted them as the (frightening) new face of the Democratic Party.
Trump and his apologists may claim that these ladies are being attacked solely because of their political views, but Bernie Sanders is every bit the socialist that these congresswomen are and Trump has never laid into Bernie the way he goes after these women. Why do you think that is?
The other reason Trump cites for wanting to see these ladies depart for the less-awesome lands he imagines they originate from is because he believes they are disrespectful and don’t really love America. With all that nay-saying why would they want to stay here anyway, right?
It’s a ridiculous suggestion and the clearest example of a double standard I’ve heard in a long time. When Barack Obama was in office, Trump, congressional Republicans and pretty much every conservative voice in the media excoriated the him on a daily basis and bad-mouthed the direction the country was moving in.
They didn’t love what was going on in the country at the time, but they didn’t leave. They fought, and they won. (At least for a couple of years, as all political victories are temporary.)
Of course President Trump knows that his political rivals aren’t going to leave the country. It’s not a serious suggestion, it’s just a way to fire up the base. “Send her back” joins “lock her up” and “build that wall” as another empty promise that feels good to chant at a pep rally but has no basis in reality and no chance of being delivered on.
But the name-calling and ranting has worked for Trump so far, and there’s no chance he’s going to change tack now. You dance with the one that brought you.
He just has to hope that there all still enough angry white folks in the country to eke out one more electoral victory.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at email@example.com.