With both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Minnesota on Friday, Minnesotans had a brief but heady chance to see two leaders duking it out to win their favor.
How the two men conduct that battle from now until Nov. 3 will say much about them. From the beginning of his presidency, Trump has made it clear he views the country through a political lens that lumps everyone and everything into Red and Blue, making no pretense of bringing the nation together in times of crisis, as every other president has done.
Worse, in a breathtaking display of callousness, Trump earlier this week applied that political lens to the nation’s COVID deaths, which are ticking ever closer to 200,000. “If you take the blue states out,” he said, “we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level.”
If you take the blue states out. As if those lives somehow were less worthy than those in red states. Some 86,000 Minnesotans have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic started. Nearly 2,000 have died, and it is not yet known what long-term health effects survivors may have. The virus is utterly heedless of whether its victims are Democrats, Republicans or Independents.
Trump’s assessment is no one-off. It is the bright thread that runs through his presidency. Trump has said that giving federal coronavirus aid to strengthen blue-state budgets would be “unfair to Republicans.” Minnesota’s request for disaster relief in the wake of this summer’s riots was rejected because Trump considers Democratic cities and governors to be at fault for any unrest that occurs. At any critical juncture where he could unite, he chooses to divide.
The ad Trump launched Friday in this state and others, marking his visit to Bemidji, was yet another example and another attempt to scare viewers about those newcomers who once saw this country as a beacon of hope.
This state has benefited greatly from its immigrant communities, and Minnesotans should reject yet another attempt to vilify them. The ad deploys visuals of explosions and masses of brown-skinned people, as the narrator warns against a Biden plan that would, in fact, restore this country’s leadership role in accepting refugees and others seeking asylum.
The narrator makes particular note of the dangers of refugees from Syria, Yemen and Somalia — a needless and hurtful attack on the refugees from those countries who have made new lives in Minnesota.
Early voting opened in Minnesota on Friday. As Minnesotans begin to cast their ballots, they should ask themselves whether they and this state are better served by a leader who continues to try to split us apart, or one who offers a united path forward.