Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Trump Takes on Professional Sports for Lack of Patriotism

In what most observers believe was a head fake to shore up his core supporters and to distract from another bad week in D.C., President Trump attacked NFL players and owners for a lack of patriotism for not forcing players to stand for the playing of the national anthem. Others felt it was simply Trump doing his tweet and troll routine about something that irritates him. He obviously knew it would rile up both his base and his opponents.

Trump may win short-term (early polls show more of public support anthem 49% than protest 43%, CNN 2017), but he has dramatically reinforced the Charlottesville problem. Although Trump and his advocates deny it, his language, audience, tone and targets give the presumption of playing to his base’s racial sentiments more credibility.

His action also adds weight to the primary weakness he has in finding support beyond his base – his character. The vast majority of voters now see him as a divisive figure, bent on dividing the country to serve his political interests and his personality.

Finally, he’s found another group of powerful, wealthy supporters, or at least supporting some of his policies, walking away from him. Like the corporate executives after his August 15 Charlottesville press conference, club owners see Trump as bad for business in a diverse, complex and interconnected economy. In this case, Trump took a marginalized movement of a few players and turned it into a cause célèbre uniting owners and players, but still potentially damaging the sport’s bottom line.

Of course, Steven Bannon, Trump’s Svengali, believes racial polarization is more valuable for his purposes than partisan polarization. And since much of the reaction to Trump is framed in racial terms, Bannon’s populist, anti-establishment movement may be helped. We shall see in November 2018 and 2020. But until then, there’s going to be a lot of power hitting.

The Dallas Cowboys | CNN

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