On Thursday, President Donald Trump promoted a new campaign ad that, once again, attempted to position him as the law and order savior of the United States. The one-minute ad, which the president tweeted this afternoon, shows footage from nationwide uprisings, including protestors coming face-to-face with police in riot gear and engaging in property destruction. But what is perhaps most confusing about the ad is it's title: This Is Joe Biden's America.
The video starts with the sound of protestors chanting, “1,2,3,4 slavery, genocide, and war,” and “5,6,7,8 America was never great” as the title fades into the frame. It goes on to show an American flag burning on the ground with images of police cars set on fire and storefronts damaged. In between these images, Joe Biden appears saying "my fellow citizens, exercising their right to peacefully protest" followed by alarming doomsday-inspired music. As the camera continues to zoom in on Biden's mouth saying the words "peacefully protest," over and over, Trump paints a misleading picture that this is what Joe Biden's America looks like, with the words "only you can stop this new normal" strung across footage of a burning country.
But what Trump so obviously misses in his 60-second after school special is that all of the things that happened in this video — and are still happening — occured during his presidency. He is literally showing us what Trump's America looks like, replete with the division and white supremacy his administration has sowed for years.
This line of attack isn’t new for the Trump administration, which has attempted to paint anti-racist dissent as a far-left contingent of the Democratic party, despite the fact that establishment Democrats — like Joe Biden — have mostly rejected further left political goals. Still, Trump’s campaign has latched on to the narrative that protestors fighting police brutality are a product of “anarchist” cities run by Democrats, and that the party’s presidential nominees are “radical left” and “socialist” candidates who will enable them.
At the Republican National Convention, Trump described Biden’s campaign as a “socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.” He has used that same line of reasoning to repeatedly connect Biden to the ongoing uprisings, telling rally-goers in North Carolina earlier this week that far left protestors “will be in charge of your government” if Biden wins. All this despite the fact that Biden, too, opposes the protests and has condemned them many times.
Trump needs to rely on this messaging, though, so he can maintain his preferred reputation as a "law and order" president. But we’ve seen time and time again what Trump’s law and order presidency looks like in the face of dissent. Federal prosecutors charged 230 people who protested the president’s 2017 inauguration with rioting and conspiracy that would have landed them each in prison for decades. The whole world watched as the president unleashed his federal troops in Portland over the summer, where demonstrators were abducted off the streets by officers in unmarked vans.
The president might want voters to believe they are safer in his hands, but Trump’s America is the one that reeks of the very danger and violence he is accusing Biden of.