What Effect Will Trump's Concentration Camps have on his reelection campaign?

According to experts, the Trump administration is running concentration camps at the border. Numerous independent reports (example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4) including ones from DHS document the horrific condition that detainees[sup][1][/sup] suffer, including being crammed into cages so tight that they cannot sit down for weeks on end, being forced into labor, being kept in wet clothes in dangerously cold conditions, being tortured with extended solitary confinement, and being denied life-saving medical care.

Now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a sitting congresswoman, has made a statement on this:

Previously, the issue was discussed mostly in terms of a few independent left-wing journalists such as Martin Garbus, but now it’s making headlines in the mainstream news. CBS: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border”; ABC: “Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Liz Cheney spar over ‘concentration camp’ comment”; NBC: “ICE chief blasts Ocasio-Cortez for comparing migrant detention centers to ‘concentration camps’”.

AOC is pretty good at making the right play defense, and this case seems no different. Now that a sitting congresswoman, particularly one with a massive social media presence, has outright endorsed the claims of Andrea Pitzer (author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, seen here talking to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes), the mainstream media can no longer ignore this.

The reaction from some on the right has, predictably, been to accuse AOC of antisemitism, call her crazy, insulting, and the usual things one might throw at a liberal woman making a “controversial” statement (although in this case the controversial statement is “quoting an expert in her field of expertise after personally visiting the camps to confirm that what she was hearing is true”).

But this issue has now officially hit the mainstream, and I’m having trouble imagining how it could be anything but bad news for Trump, especially because this is a story that isn’t going away any time soon[sup][2][/sup]. The longer this goes, the more photographs we’ll have like this one; the more children dead of preventable or treatable illness we’ll have in the news, and the more news cycles will end up devoted to continuing demonstrations of Adam Serwer’s point about the cruelty being the point. Meanwhile, the best defenses I’ve seen from the right involve complaining that “these concentration camps are not nearly as bad as the ones the nazis had”, which, as far as moral defenses go, is kind of a non-starter. It may, however, be enough of a thought-stopper to get people rolling their eyes and not thinking about things.
The first main worry in my head is whether this will move the needle at all. We’ve already seen that Trump supporters are very often on-board with Trump’s dehumanizing rhetoric[sup][3][/sup]. I’ve seen the complaint “you’re overreacting, it’s nothing like the nazis” lodged on this forum.

The second is that people don’t like to think about this, and the media may find that there’s little interest in these stories. People would rather look away. God knows, following this story online has not been good for my blood pressure or my family relationships; as my signature indicates it’s really hard for me to look past this in friends or family. If it turns out articles about this don’t do great numbers, we’re going to stop hearing about it in the mainstream media. It’s going to fade into the background, and become “the new normal”. This is not helped by ICE having a lot of wiggle room to turn away or impede journalists.
But, as said, I cannot picture this being a winner for Trump. Maybe that’s somewhat pollyannish, but how do you make “my opposition is credibly accusing me of running concentration camps” work for you rather than against you[sup][4][/sup]?

There’s an apocryphal story, often attributed to LBJ, about a conversation between him and an aide. LBJ wants to paint his opponent as a pigfucker. His aide responds, “we can’t prove that”, and LBJ says, “I know that, I just want to hear him deny it”.

Well, when it comes to ICE running concentration camps at the southern border, that’s where we are. It’s gotten widespread enough and gone mainstream enough that they feel the need to deny it. And once a claim like this goes this mainstream, when it’s clear that it’s not merely an insane conspiracy theory but that there are actually legs to it, there really is no configuration of words that can make “no, we’re not actually running concentration camps” sound good. And actual, honest-to-god concentration camps? Feels about as close to red meat for the democratic base as we’re likely to get.


[1] Note: DHS maintains that these detainments are civil, not criminal, and that they are not meant to be punitive:

Whether you think this matters may depend on whether or not you think this distinction matters or should matter for illegal immigrants, migrants, and asylum-seekers.

[2] There is no plan to improve conditions (in fact, if you peruse the esquire article I linked at the start, you’ll that situations have been consistently deteriorating and there’s every reason to believe it will continue to get worse), no plan to shut down these camps, and the Trump administration has taken no steps to milden its rhetoric on immigrants, instead escalating in recent days by threatening to deport, quote, “millions”.

[3] https://www.vox.com/2019/5/9/18538124/trump-panama-city-beach-rally-shooting-migrants

“And don’t forget — we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons. We can’t,” Trump said. “Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people? You can’t. There’s—”

Before Trump could finish his thought, a woman in the audience yelled out. While it was unclear exactly what she said during television coverage of the event, numerous eyewitnesses reported she said, “Shoot them!”

Trump apparently found the suggestion amusing. He gestured at the person who yelled and said, “That’s only in the Panhandle, you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle!”

[4] Okay I can think of two. The first is that the democrats stab her in the back. This is already being demanded on Fox News. The second is that the share of white fascists in the American Electorate is considerably higher than anyone thought. Both are not particularly likely, but both are possible and chilling.

Very little, to answer the thread title question, IMO. Those who find this kind of thing abominable already oppose Trump, and those that still support Trump are either okay with putting these folks in camps or refuse to believe it no matter the evidence.

**What Effect Will Trump’s Concentration Camps have on his reelection campaign?
**
None.

Those that oppose him will continue to oppose him. Those for whom he can do no wrong will not see a problem.

Calling them concentration camps, which they are, going back to the British coining of the term in the Boer War, will only make his supporters, (and even some opponents), mock you because they are not Auschwitz.

Sadly, this.
*
Very classy OP, BTW.* :slight_smile:

Zero. Which of his base of 40% of voters do you think this will affect? His supporters here certainly won’t change their minds.

Concentration camps seem to be the right term to me. No one is saying they are Nazi death camps. We’ve had concentration camps before in this country, the Japanese detention camps. Also, it’s not like all was well and then suddenly Auschwitz – as usual, the Onion gets it right:

The problem is all the small steps that lead to disaster – you don’t get there overnight. That’s why people of conscience resist the steps that lead there, rather than enabling those steps, McConnell-like.

This is probably my only post in this thread. My grandfather fled the Nazis; his family wouldn’t leave and all died in camps. We had family friends with tattoos. So, this is a little emotional for me and I don’t want to get into a fight with someone defending what we’re doing on the border and get warned or banned.

Oh, I’m not looking at them, I’m looking at the non-voters, particularly the 2012 dem voters who didn’t make it out in 2016. I don’t expect a significant portion of Trump’s base to be moved by the plight of “illegals”, but I’m seriously hoping it will shake a few people out of complacency, and serve as red meat for the democratic base to encourage more outreach and GOTV efforts.

I respect the hell out of that, and I’m sorry to hear that.

Republicans, help me out here, was that shrill?
I predict that the disgusting way these people are being treated will cause some people who voted for Trump for the lulz to reconsider doing so again. I can’t say how many. I can’t fathom how this will cause someone who didn’t already support Trump to throw their support his way.

Their existence will not deter his core supporters. In fact, many if not most of them cheer their existence. I think his many sins will bring out many of the voters who chose to stay home in 2016, and I think the swing voters will abandon him as well. As I’ve said before, his first term is plenty time enough to show his true character, so everyone will know who and what they are voting for. The results of the 2020 elections will say volumes about the character of this nation.

The Japanese internment camps were concentration camps but these really aren’t even by the more expansive definitions in the first linked article.

One group isn’t being separated out by the majority group. As bad as conditions may be, I find it pretty nauseating rhetoric to call them concentration camps.

Huh? Migrants are being separated from everyone else. That seems pretty clearly to meet that definition.

Liz Cheney
Verified account @Liz_Cheney
Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this. https://twitter.com/realsaavedra/status/1140846386042171392
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
‏Verified account @AOC
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Retweeted Liz Cheney
**Also @Liz_Cheney, the fact that you employed the horrifying word “exterminated” here (co-opting the language of the oppressor) tells us that it’s you that needs to brush up on your reading.

Hope you enjoy defending concentration camps. I won’t back down fighting against them.**

Oh, you think “migrants” is a valid sub group for that definition of concentration camp? Wouldn’t “criminal” also fit then, making every single prison a concentration camp? And it still doesn’t fit the definition because migrants aren’t being separated out, they are not being allowed in. If you can’t see a vital distinction between imprisoning someone who is crossing the border with rounding up citizens of your country and putting them in camps, then I don’t know what to say.

Concentration camps don’t require the inhabitants to be citizens of the country that builds the things. The Boers shoved into camps were not British citizens, and they were the majority, yet we call those places concentration camps.

Yes, quite obviously. It would also fit “extermination camp” if these camps started exterminating them. They’re being separated and “concentrated” in clearly substandard (from a human rights perspective) facilities.

If there weren’t already a much more accurate word (prison), then yes.

There’s a distinction, but it’s not about what to call the camps. They’re not prisons – these aren’t convicted criminals who received due process. There’s no better descriptor for them than concentration camps.

Detention camps. The detainees are doing all the “concentration” work themselves by delivering themselves to the border.

Oh, I thought they were rounded up, zip-tied maybe, kiss your kids goodbye, and brought to the camps. Just strolling in to them, are they?

If you find it nauseating then I suggest you don’t support people who put other people into concentration camps such as we have along our southern borders.

No one in my father’s family who stayed in Europe past 1939 survived. We don’t even know where their ashes are. Given how emotional this topic is for me I will also probably have limited posting in this thread, perhaps no more than this one.

They aren’t concentration camps, as I explained, and I don’t support Trump regardless.

If one is inclined to try and frame things in the most positive way possible for the Trump administration, then perhaps. But if one cares more about being accurate and factual, then I think concentration camps is clearly much more accurate.

There’s nothing illegal about going to the border, or requesting asylum, or the actions of many of these migrants. Many who were detained while or after crossing haven’t been through due process and convicted of any crimes. Some of them might even be legal residents or citizens, with no access to lawyers to prove their legitimacy.

Concentration camps is a better descriptor for people, not convicted of any crimes, who are rounded up and locked into substandard facilities because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My gut feeling is that, while it won’t make much difference among people who are going to vote anyway, it will probably encourage people who otherwise wouldn’t have voted to vote Democrat.