After over a week of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the August 23 shooting of Jacob Blake, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced on Saturday that Trump would be visiting the city currently rife with unrest. News of his impending Tuesday visit was quickly decried by state and city leaders, including Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who sent a letter to the White House on Sunday asking Trump not to come.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,” Evers expressed in his letter. “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
Kenosha mayor John Antaramian also expressed his disapproval with Trump’s visit, noting on Sunday on NPR’s Weekend Edition that "All presidents are always welcome and campaign issues are always going on. But it would have been, I think, better had he waited to have for another time to come."
Trump, never one to let others stop him from doing what he wants to do, doubled down on his intent to visit Kenosha on Monday, tweeting “If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now. Also, there would have been great death and injury. I want to thank Law Enforcement and the National Guard. I will see you on Tuesday!”
But after a teenage white supremacist shot and killed two protestors in Kenosha just last week, it's hard to imagine what Trump — who has stoked division and promoted white nationalism — would gain from visiting Kenosha at all. Though, if you look at his history, it might make more sense than immediately imaginable.
Trump has frequently provoked ongoing anti-racism protestors by calling white nationalists and even anti-maskers "good people." In June, he denounced the Black Lives Matter movement and tweeted a video where people were clearly yelling "white power." It makes perfect sense now why Trump would want to go to Kenosha: If there’s a chance for him to fan the flames of chaos, he’ll take it, just as he has with supporting white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville and beyond, threatening to send the National Guard to major city protests like he did with Portland, and tweeting about retaliating against protesters after being hidden in the White House bunker.
This visit will ultimately will benefit Trump, who, during an election season, has literally created a campaign out of the ongoing protests. At the Republican National Convention, the president made frequent remarks about Joe Biden's role in persisting ongoing violence. The tag line "Biden's America" was even used in front of images of protests aflame, that were later proven to be from Barcelona. Trump has done the same by attacking local officials of cities that have seen continued protests, butting heads with Democratic leaders and labeling them as instigators when they continue to plea for help.
Vice President Mike Pence has also tacitly peddled this message, saying at the RNC, "The hard truth is, you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America.”
But what, exactly, does this say about Trump's America? When local leadership are stepping over each other to beg him to stop stoking division and promoting violence, why is he so eager to keep doing it? Perhaps that's something for voters to consider come November.