President Trump has approved an ad which is wrong on so many levels but may work as he hopes. Watch:
The ad uses misinformation and the vivid case of an unrepentant cop-killer to provoke fear. Then the ad offers the protective strategy of voting for Republicans. The ad is terrible because of the misinformation and stereotyping but may work because it gives a strategy to address the fear it creates.
Here are the problems:
Shock! The Ad Isn’t Truthful
The ad claims Democrats let the convicted murderer, Luis Bracamontes, into the country and then let him stay. In fact, he came and went during both Republican and Democrat administrations. Bill Clinton deported him but he came back into the country during George Bush’s presidency. At one point, Trump ally Joe Arpaio had him in his jail but then let him go. It is misinformation to blame Democrats alone for his presence.
Stereotyping through Insensitivity to Sample Bias
Bracamontes isn’t a representative sample of the caravan participants. He is one person who committed horrible crimes. When one actually considers what larger samples of immigrants, documented and undocumented, have done in communities, it is clear that Bracamontes is not representative of them. Crime rates are lower in many of these neighborhoods. Crime rates are not higher in states with large immigrant populations.
The ad seeks to associate Bracamontes with the migrants who seek asylum as a vivid case of a brown skinned person who wants to enter the US. The migrants moving toward the U.S. want to be vetted and want asylum. That is not Bracamontes’ history.
Social psychological research has shown that vivid cases such as Bracamontes persuade people to believe unflattering stereotypes. With this ad, Trump leaves no doubt that he wants voters to fear asylum seekers as dangerous criminals.
Fear Based Appeals Work
Research also shows that fear based appeals are persuasive if a strategy to address the fear is offered. Trump’s fear mongering is for a purpose. He clearly links Bracamontes with the caravan seeking asylum and implies those people will be as terrible as Bracamontes.
This ad is awful in many ways. It is lamentable that it may keep some wavering people in the Trump fold. To me, it is disgusting that the Republicans would condone this ad (anytime) so soon after the Pittsburgh shooting given that the shooter may have been motivated by a perception that Jews were helping the migrants.
Update: A similar ad has been pulled from CNN, FoxNews(!), and Facebook.
CNN refused to run this ad… I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda. Enjoy. Remember this on Tuesday. #vote #voterepublican pic.twitter.com/VyMm7GhPLX
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 3, 2018