Last week, I authored an InsiderNJ column, “The Trump ‘Law-and-Order’ Message is both Backfiring and Failing Badly.”
The ABC News/Ipsos poll, published in today’s Washington Post supported my contention, finding that 55 percent of the electorate feels that Trump’s message is making the situation worse:
The problem is that Trump is an inveterate anti-black bigot who can’t break loose from his lifetime devotion to racism, even when such racism in the form of his law-and-order message is destroying his own campaign.
Trump is the most virulent racist in the White House since Woodrow Wilson, with his record of racial discrimination in his Brooklyn housing projects, his defamation of the Central Park Five, and his support for the anti-Obama Birther movement.
Now, he cannot restrain himself from adding to his heritage of bigotry two new overtly racist messages in this campaign: 1) his defamatory attacks against the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement; and 2) his efforts to discontinue racial diversity training at federal agencies. These new Trumpist themes prove that his racism is on the level of his ardent KKK supporter David Duke.
And with regard to his appeal to suburban housewives, Trump has an even more blatantly racist message.
In July, the Trump administration announced it is revoking an Obama-era housing regulation designed to eliminate racial disparities in the suburbs, the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. Fair housing advocates have decried this revocation as an election year stunt designed to manipulate the fears of white voters.
Trump proved these advocates were correct two days later. He followed up this action with his most flagrantly racist message of the campaign. With a tweet addressed to “The Suburban Housewives of America,” President Trump made his racist appeal to his intended audience clear:
“Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream, I will preserve it, and make it even better!”
The Trump message was unambiguous in its virulent racism: Biden will reinstate this regulation, and people of color will be coming to take over your suburbs.
Unfortunately for Trump, and fortunately for America, our nation is far less racist than what Trump would like it to be. Most white Americans are good and decent people who will scoff at the Trump message that people of color threaten the future of American suburbs.
There is a threat to America’s suburbs, however, as shown by the forest fires destroying suburban communities in Oregon and California. That danger is the cause of these fires: Climate change. And Donald Trump is a climate change sceptic who denies its reality and steadfastly refuses to do anything about it.
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has made abundantly clear his policies attributing climate change as the prime cause of these fires:
“The debate is over, around climate. This is a climate damn emergency. This is real and it’s happening.”
He highlighted the efforts of the states to combat climate change, and noted that the record heat waves and unprecedented fires were the sort of problems long forecast by scientists.
The overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that climate change is the cause of these fires. Climate scientists had long forecast that western wildfires would grow in size, scale and impact. Their predictions, however, are coming to fruition faster than projected.
Still, Donald Trump dangerously continues to deny the perspective of science and blames poor forest management as the main cause of the latest blazes.
“You’ve got to clean your forests – there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re… so flammable,” he told a rally last month.
Unlike Donald Trump, Gavin Newsom is a man who does not avoid responsibility. He acknowledged failings in forest management in recent decades, but added: “That’s one point, but it’s not the point.” The point is climate change, and Donald Trump will continue to live in his flat-earth society by denying it.
And now, climate change will threaten New Jersey more than ever within the next year, in the form of floods rather than fires.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a report in July, forecasting that towns up and down the Jersey Shore will be exposed to increased flooding as a result of sea-level rise caused by climate change, rather than storms.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, noted the significance of this NOAA report coming out of a presidential administration that denies climate change, And this NOAA report provides further support for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) report issued in June, which noted the additional dangers climate change poses to New Jersey in the form of reduced air quality and a longer fire season.
The emergence of the climate change issue will be a major factor in favor of Democrat Amy Kennedy in her campaign to oust Republican incumbent Representative Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey’s Second Congressional District. A vote for Van Drew is a vote for the Trump climate change policies, which constitute a catastrophic threat to the coastal towns in that district.
The irony is that while Trump demonizes people of color, the African-American community has been a solid force on behalf of the environmental community, as shown by public opinion surveys.
That should not surprise anybody, as people of color disproportionately bear climate impacts, from storms to heat waves to pollution. Fossil-fueled power plants and refineries are disproportionately located in black neighborhoods, leading to poor air quality and putting people at higher risk for coronavirus. The need for environmental justice is real and constitutes a key component of the Biden climate change program.
So while Trump continues to make failed racist appeals to panic white suburban Americans, Joe Biden is addressing the real threat to suburban America, climate change. Americans who are watching the news of the West Coast fires understand more than ever before the danger that climate change poses to their homes and lives. This issue will emerge in salience during the last month of the presidential campaign and increase the likelihood of a Biden landslide.
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.