Posted on July 30, 2020

Trump Plays on Racist Fears of Terrorized Suburbs to Court White Voters

Annie Karni, et al., New York Times, July 29, 2020

President Trump vowed on Wednesday to protect suburbanites from low-income housing being built in their neighborhoods, making an appeal to white suburban voters by trying to stir up racist fears about affordable housing and the people who live there.

In a tweet and later in remarks during a visit to Texas, Mr. Trump painted a false picture of the suburbs as under siege and ravaged by crime, using fear-mongering language that has become something of a rhetorical flourish in his general election campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” The president was referring to the administration’s decision last week to roll back an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation in suburban housing. The program expanded provisions in the Fair Housing Act to encourage diversification and “foster inclusive communities.”

“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down,” he wrote, even though there was no evidence that the program led to an increase in crime.

The tweet, sent from aboard Air Force One as Mr. Trump traveled to Texas, was the latest example of the president stoking racial division as he seeks to win over voters in his bid for re-election. White suburban voters, particularly women, were key to his victory in 2016 but are slipping away from him.


During his remarks in West Texas later on Wednesday, Mr. Trump bragged again that he had ended a government program that tries to reduce segregation in suburban areas.

“People fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home,” he said. “There will be no more low-income housing forced into the suburbs.”

“It’s been hell for suburbia,” he added, before telling the audience to “enjoy your life, ladies and gentlemen.”

Mr. Trump has also invoked the suburbs to try to increase apprehension about Mr. Biden. Last week he provocatively tweeted directly to “the Suburban Housewives of America,” warning, “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream.”


The Biden campaign said that as president, Mr. Biden would reinstate the program expanding provisions in the Fair Housing Act.


Mr. Trump has said that Black Lives Matter is a “symbol of hate,” despite the fact that a majority of voters support the protests that have taken place nationally.

The president also has openly defended the Confederate flag, scolding NASCAR when it banned it from its races, and he has tried to conflate peaceful protesters with a smaller group who have more aggressively sought to tear down statues of Confederate generals.

Jef Pollock, a Democratic pollster, said that Mr. Trump is recycling a political playbook from an era that’s long gone.

“Trump is playing old New York politics from the 1990s,” Mr. Pollock said. “The reality is that more and more suburban voters have embraced diversity as a positive thing for their community. They support the Black Lives Matter movement, and from an aspirational perspective, they want their children to grow up in a more tolerant and less divided country. What’s scary to them is the constant division and intolerance that Trump is promulgating.”