Elections, U.S.A.

TRUMP IS THE ISSUE

“It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s the phrase used during Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992, when he defeated then-President George H.W. Bush. The message to voters was crystal clear.

The United States was in a recession, the president had to be blamed and his challenger offered an alternative. And it was all summed up in those four words. But in this presidential election year, it’s all summed up in one word: Trump.

The issue is Trump.

Are you for or against Trump? That’s what US voters will declare on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Unless of course one of the many legal cases Trump faces – 91 charges in all – blocks his candidacy or he shockingly looses the GOP nomination in the primary process that began Monday in Iowa.

Of course there are other issues on the agenda. Despite a cut in inflation, a New York Times poll shows more than half of US voters consider the economy to be in “poor” condition. So the Republicans can wield the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” But the crisis along the border with Mexico is also a battle cry for those who want Joe Biden out of the White House.

More than 300,000 migrants were detained in the United States in December after crossing the border illegally. That’s a record, and the truth is that no one knows how to stop that unstoppable migrant flow. I have been on that border many times and even the most hard-bitten US border agents squirm when they see a family crossing the Rio Grande/Bravo, with the father or mother carrying children on their shoulders.

Now they blame the border crisis on Biden. But similar problems happened under Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. That border is porous by nature, and no wall will help. What I want to say with all this is that immigration might well become the central issue of the 2024 presidential campaign. It’s not.

It’s Trump.

US voters must decide if they want Trump, with all his faults, back in the White House. The 2024 election will not be decided by the economy, immigration, abortion, gun violence, health costs or the spread of the war in the Middle East. The decision, much more simple, is whether they want as president again a man who refused to recognize his defeat in 2020, who tried to illegally change the results, who has been accused of inciting an insurrection and who many see as a threat to democracy.

The debate has already begun. Officials in Maine and Colorado are deciding whether Trump can be excluded from their ballots. “Coloradans, and the American people, deserve clarity on whether someone who engaged in insurrection may run for the country’s highest office,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold told the U.S. Supreme Court, which will have the last word. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars anyone “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office.

President Biden and many others have accused Trump of inciting an insurrection on January 6 2021, when thousands of his supporters broke violently into the U.S. Congress. Before the attack, Trump told his supporters to march to the Capitol building and “fight” for their country. I witnessed that. No one had to tell me about it. For hours that day, I reported on the violent TV images of Trump followers attacking police, forcing their way into the building and threatening members of Congress.

Because of all that, many believe that Trump should not be allowed to run for the presidency. The Supreme Court will soon rule on that. And despite whatever tensions that might generate, we are required to ask ourselves if someone accused of insurrection can return to the White House. At risk is democracy in the world’s most powerful country.

We cannot avoid the issue.

On Instagram, there’s a video of comedian Will Ferrell being interviewed by TV host Conan O’Brien. There’s a white parrot on Ferrell’s shoulder. And when O’Brien asks about the parrot, Ferrell says they can talk about anything except the parrot. Both crack up laughing over the absurd situation.

It’s not the same with Trump and his attacks on democracy. We see it, and we must talk about it openly. Even if it hurts. This is no laughing matter.

By Jorge Ramos Ávalos

Image by: Trump White House Archived with license Public Domain

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Jorge Ramos has been the anchorman for Noticiero Univision since 1986. He writes a weekly column for more than 40 newspapers in the United States and Latin America, and provides daily radio commentary for the Radio Univision network. Ramos also hosts Al Punto, Univision’s weekly public affairs program offering analysis of the week’s top stories, and Fusion’s AMERICA with Jorge Ramos, a news program geared towards young adults. Ramos has won eight Emmy awards and is the author of ten books, most recently, STRANGER - The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era.

A survey conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found that Ramos is the second most recognized Latino leader in the country. Latino Leaders magazine chose him as one of “The Ten Most Admired Latinos” and “101 Top Leaders of the Latino Community in the U.S.”

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