WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sending U.S. military troops to the border on the eve of the election is a political ploy and would be way off base even if its intentions were pure.
With his presidency and his party's prospects looking bleak for the upcoming midterm elections Trump has launched into a calculated campaign of misinformation and division.
The goal is obvious. Distract, divide and at least slow the political momentum building against his presidency.
By stoking fear and dividing Americans in an effort to hold onto to power, Trump is playing a treacherous game with our democratic society.
In the past several weeks the president has repeatedly attempted to fuel division on a range of topics but the central target is immigrants, refugees and people of color.
Whether in tweets or at unruly rallies in key election districts Trump has repeated hateful and dishonest statements about immigrants and the traveling group of Honduran refugees seeking asylum.
Do our immigration laws need improvement? Of course. Do we want our country to be safe? Without a doubt.
However, Trump's hardline methods are cruel and ineffective. Separating families is a horrible, inhumane idea and is not slowing the flow of immigrants or refugees.
The wall is a financial and policy joke. The recently reported attempt to reverse birthright citizenship for children born in the United States is simply un-American.
And... the foolish and likely ineffective use of U.S. military troops as a purported deterrent at the border is just another politically (not policy) motivated action that experts even in his own administration believe to be unwise.
This distract-and-divide tactic may be working, at least with certain populations who are part of Trump's base or live along the border.
Sadly the president's demonization of the press and news agencies has created a buffer against criticism and fact checking of his rhetoric.
I recently engaged, quite carefully, in a conversation about the refugee caravan with a relative in my home state of Texas.
While I know this person to be fairly open in their thinking and voting it was clear that the misinformation campaign was taking hold in a region that sees an outsized impact from migration.
Talk of danger, gangs, drugs and other favorite fearful and misinformed talking points being pushed by Trump and his allies quickly came up.
However, when I explained that the people traveling north were seeking asylum from the very things being used to make Americans fearful the tone changed. I also noted that the number of people involved is roughly the size of a small Texas town and not some massive "invasion".
Thinking about women and children fleeing for their lives, seeking safety, seeking a better life we agreed in the end that while challenges do exist, the humanity of being more understanding wins out.
Through this, my conversational companion was reminded of the inhumanity of family separations. They were then reminding themselves of the hateful and misguided policies that Trump promotes. We also recalled how erratic and unprofessional his presidency has been.
What we engaged in over the short but useful 15 minutes was dialogue that gave respectful space for conflicting opinions and experiences.
While they were able to share some of the unique challenges of living in a border state, I was able to appeal to the human element so often minimized in all the heated rhetoric and we both went on our way better informed even if we may still not see the issue the same way.
We need to throw a wet blanket on the heated, divisive language and policies stemming from Trump's political schemes. Stoking fears by talking about or enacting policies like family separation, ending birthright citizenship and sending troops to the border are not the way forward.
Don Kusler is national director of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), the nation's most experienced progressive advocacy organization. A native of Texas, he earned a bachelor's degree in history from Sam Houston State University.