On the surface, Donald Trump’s escalated race-baiting looks self-destructive. The US economy is growing. Middle-class wages have been picking up. Trump’s re-election aim should be to broaden his base to include non-white people — or at least reassure moderate white voters who are queasy about reliving the US civil war.

Yet he is steaming in the opposite direction. Telling US-born Democrats to go back to the countries they came from is a departure even by Trump’s standards. In 2016 he attacked immigrants, chiefly Muslim and Mexican, as a threat to national security. Now he is portraying opinionated non-white citizens as un-American. Their citizenship is performance-based.

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