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The raging dysfunction of our federal government goes into overdrive this close to a presidential election, especially this close to this election.

Nothing you're currently seeing in Washington amounts to anything other than cynical allegiance to tactics and strategies for the looming contest.

The prince of this heightened cynicism is, of course, Donald Trump. He is both its product and chief practitioner.

People say he was blatantly racist to put on Twitter on Sunday that four liberal Democratic women in Congress of ethnic heritage should go back to where they came from and try to run those inept countries before trying to run ours.

But I didn't peer into his heart, where a racist will be revealed. And I can't be sure he wouldn't tell white people to go back where they came from if he thought there were benefits for him in the divisiveness.

I can, however, detect in plain sight his utterly virtue-devoid and irredeemable behavior.

Trump's tactical political purpose is to goad the Democratic mainstream into standing up for its left extreme. That way, he might more readily lump and lather all Democrats with the more polarizing positions of these women, thus fortifying his own re-election formula.

That's the same formula that applied in his first election. It's to invoke a 1950s-retro America against this new Democratic one with all these subgroups of ethnicity and variable values systems.

It's to tap people's fear, at best, or their racist hate, at worst.

Trump seems pleased to tap whichever produces a vote, especially in an upper midwest swing state.

The tactic worked well for him in 2016 in concert with Republican establishment incompetence in the primary and Democratic ineptitude in the general election, the latter of which is at risk of lining up for him nicely again.

That's unless Joe Biden can find his bearings or Elizabeth Warren can condense a compelling simple message from her exhaustive populist substance.

Trump also spouted big plans for a nationwide dragnet Sunday night to round up a couple of thousand undocumented immigrants and deport them. Federal officers rounded up maybe a half-dozen, which, for Trump's purpose, was all the better.

He could assure his base that he was trying to run the illegals out but that the liberals in all these sanctuary cities were protecting them.

Conversely, liberal Democrats have been blessed with this opportunity to protect undocumented persons and thus endear themselves further to the large Hispanic element of their own base.

It's akin to early rounds in a boxing match. Trump is crowing about a big knockout punch when his real purpose is throwing tactical body blows. Democrats see the advantage in counter-punching. Then they all return to their corners for a little hydration, attention to any minor cuts, and a refresher on tactics and strategy.

Meantime, the real and difficult immigration issue rages unsolved because solving it requires hard work on policy detail and the art of compromise. For now, and maybe permanently, both sides prefer the political benefit of the unadulterated mess.

If a president and Congress worked out an orderly and humane system for greater border control and efficient and just processing of asylum seekers, then Trump's campaign would suffer from having no illegals to pretend he's going to deport. Democrats would suffer from having no Trump threat of a roundup from which to protect some in their constituency.

If the parties compromised to address the immigrant problem, then presidential candidates might have to talk about the soaring deficit or failing infrastructure--to mention a couple of dire issues that fly in each other's faces.

The next window of opportunity for substantive policy can't possibly occur until early 2021. How widely it opens and how long it stays open will depend on what the voters say in November 2020.

If they re-elect both Trump and a Democratic House, the window will remain closed, locked hard, and stuck.

There is a theory the American people like things intentionally divided because that keeps either party from imposing an agenda.

But this era of American political dysfunction by design may have run too long, and amok.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 07/17/2019


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Archived Comments

  • mozarky2
    July 17, 2019 at 5:09 a.m.

    Retail on fire, factory output on fire! The Trump Miracle Economy continues apace! Things are going so well since Trump took office, the dems have to make up false charges of racism to remain viable.
    And, thanks, PDJT, for my $5,000 tax cut last year!

  • mozarky2
    July 17, 2019 at 5:17 a.m.

    This little scuffle between the Kute Kommie Kongresswomyn and President Trump will accrue great benefits to PDJT. After the smoke has cleared, people can see for themselves that there was nothing in his tweets that was racist, and that the KKK's were the actual racists. All you have to do is look at some of the statements they've made.
    If you "progs" think benefits will accrue to your side, you probably just haven't come to the realization that Normal Americans don't hate America like you do. And most of you are so willfully ignorant, you probably never will.

  • reality1963
    July 17, 2019 at 5:34 a.m.

    These little clowns leading the the Socialist Democratic Party, are a joke. Hey, JB, would you be interested in leaving with them? You are not a real popular guy in Arkansas, the conservative state.

  • mozarky2
    July 17, 2019 at 5:54 a.m.

    From the Babylon Bee:
    WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Trump campaign has unveiled its 2020 campaign strategy of airing unedited footage of speeches and press conferences by far-left Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and that other one.

    GOP commercials will air the footage around the clock. The speeches will not be edited in any way. Rather than pushing their own policy proposals, Republicans will just remind the nation of just who it is they're running against.
    "We were pretty concerned when Trump was tweeting those racially charged things the other day," said one campaign strategist. "But now we're in the clear again. I mean, he'll say something problematic again soon. But we don't even have to defend it. We just have to show people the Dems tripping over themselves to say something even crazier."
    "Frankly, when we saw that wild press conference after Trump's tweets, we took a moment and thanked the Lord above for His blessings," he added.
    Satire? Not really! The RNC has produced a devastating ad which does just that! It features nothing but democrats saying the dumbest things!

  • RBear
    July 17, 2019 at 6:49 a.m.

    Moz retail is NOT on fire. Factory output is moderate at best. You are SUCH an idiot and don't know enough to even recognize it. Oh, and you DIDN'T get a $5,000 tax cut. You lie about everything under the sun.

  • Rightside
    July 17, 2019 at 7:13 a.m.

    Brummett's four liberal Democratic women have called Joe Biden a racist then a week later called Nancy Pelosi a racist. If you disagree with them you are a racist.

  • mozarky2
    July 17, 2019 at 7:56 a.m.

    Here ya go, RBear:
    After three years of avoiding the subject, on Tuesday a major mainstream media newspaper published a report on Ilhan Omar, her tax fraud, her illegal use of campaign funds, and her marriage to her younger brother.
    Not going to mention the name of the newspaper, just to drive you berserk.You'll stay busy for hours trying to find it, even after I've given you the keywords!

  • Rightside
    July 17, 2019 at 8:06 a.m.

    Brummett's four liberal Democratic women have accused women of color who support Trump as tokens, they have made Anti-Semitic, anti-law enforcement statements, pro antifa statements, one has refuse to criticize Al-Qaeda. They are the new democrat party. A group of democrat protesters removed the American flag from outside an Immigration and Customs facility in Denver and replaced it with a Mexican flag last week.
    Nancy Pelosi was rebuked for calling Trump’s tweets racist when she spoke in the house.
    Pelosi was out of order, and her “words should not be used in debate,” ruled House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)

  • Morebeer
    July 17, 2019 at 8:13 a.m.

    Mozarky is exhibit 1 of Trump’s boast that he could murder someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would rationalize it away. Trump despises his own supporters as easily manipulated lemmings. As to racism, he’s more Faubus and Wallace than some KKK dunce. Trump knows better but uses racism and xenophobia to keep Mozarky salivating.

  • RBear
    July 17, 2019 at 8:14 a.m.

    moz says, "We've had this conversation before, RB, and we established that I'm in a considerably higher bracket than you." Hilarious. You have no idea how much I make and yet you make this idiotic statement. Considerably more? Hardly, but then again you lie about quite a bit.