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I’ve been struggling with how to articulate what we’re facing right now in a way that’s accessible and not overwhelming. This tweet from writer Jared Yates Sexton sums it up better than anything else I’ve seen or attempted to write myself.

Just two weeks ago I wrote that Trump’s racist rhetoric would “fan the flames and potentially lead to more incidents of domestic terrorism.” We all know this but we need to start saying it out loud more often. We also know it’s intentional. Trump’s strategy to win reelection is to keep his base engaged with racist, misogynist, and hateful rhetoric, and his 2020 campaign is pouring serious resources into that strategy. According to Media Matters’ Natalie Martinez, the Trump campaign has run more than 2,000 Facebook ads referring to immigration as an “invasion.” (Martinez also mapped out how Facebook has allowed ads using invasion and other white supremacist dog whistle terms since 2014)

Trump’s actions are just as dangerous. CNN’s Jake Tapper reports that the White House “rebuffed attempts by DHS to make combating domestic terrorism a higher priority.” Trump’s own FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress just a couple of weeks ago that the majority of domestic terrorism incidents this year were inspired by White Supremacy. But Trump recently told reporters he doesn’t believe white nationalism is a growing threat. Trump also doesn’t seem to have much empathyfor thevictims of these attacks or the communities affected by them.

President Trump isn’t the cause of mass shootings or domestic terrorism but Trump has become the de facto leader of a global far-right white supremacist movement that inspires many of these attacks. The El Paso shooter quoted Trump and used his language multiple times in his so-called manifesto. White Supremacists routinely defend and praise Trump’s rhetoric. Trump is a white supremacist who emboldens his supporters and inspires domestic terrorists. 

I’ll add that the American media are largely unprepared to cover this reality. Just this week the New York Times published a front-page headline characterizing a Trump reading a pre-written statement as Trump urging “unity versus racism.” CNN published an article about the Dayton shooter (whose motive is still unknown) with a headline and lede that focused on the shooter’s liking of lefty tweets at the same time burying details such as that the shooter had a “kill list”, a “rape list”, a former classmate who said he’d called the police on him in the past, and played in a misogynist “porngrind” band. And multiple reporters on Twitter incorrectly accused Congressman Joaquin Castro of jeopardizing the safety of Trump donors when he tweeted what was already public information

At this point I don’t know how America can pull itself out of the hole we find ourselves in. Especially when the people in power just keep digging. Most of my focus this week is on the rot at the top, but President Trump is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. I didn’t even mention, the chans, Fox News, or the tech platforms’ continual willingness to be an amplification network for hate and extremism. I also didn’t talk about gun reform legislation and America’s inability to enact it. 

If you’re running for state or federal office in 2020 your platform needs to address combating domestic terrorism and white supremacy. And if you’re supporting candidates as a donor or volunteer, make sure your candidates know they need a policy position and a plan. The best way to counter the rot at the top is a grassroots army demanding change from the ground up.