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Trump's divide-and-conquer strategy is working

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

It's what he did in the 2016 election, but on a far larger scale. Then, he sucked all the oxygen out of the race by making himself its biggest story. Now, he's sucking all the oxygen out of America by making himself our national obsession.

Trump received more coverage in the 2016 election than any presidential candidate in American history. Hillary Clinton got far less, and what she got was almost all about her emails.

Schooled in reality television and New York tabloids, Trump knows how to keep both sides stirred up: Vilify, disparage, denounce, defame, and accuse the other side of conspiring against America. Do it continuously. Dominate every news cycle.

Fox News is his propaganda arm, magnifying his tweets, rallies and lies. The rest of the media also play into Trump's strategy by making him the defining controversy of America. Every particular dispute -- DACA, the "wall," North Korea, Mueller's investigation and so on -- becomes another aspect of the larger national war over Trump.

It's the divide-and-conquer strategy of a tyrant.

Democracies require sufficient social trust that citizens regard the views of those they disagree with as worthy of equal consideration to their own. That way, they'll accept political outcomes they dislike.

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Trump's divide-and-conquer strategy is to destroy that trust.

So if Mueller finds that Trump colluded with Russia, or Trump fires Mueller before Mueller makes such a finding, the pro-Trumps will block any consequential challenge to his authority.

Nothing could be more dangerous to our democracy and society.

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(Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Robert Reich's new book, "The Common Good," is out Feb. 20. His documentary, "Saving Capitalism," is available on Netflix.)

 

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