Donald Trump's tweets telling congresswomen to ‘go back' to 'original places' they came from may just be the start

US President Donald Trump, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Credit: AP

It’s a sad commentary on Trump’s America that a constant topic of conversation for Washington journalists is debating which of the President’s tweets are the most shocking and offensive.

This weekend we had a new contender.

It is possible that Sunday’s series of tweets against four Congresswomen actually wins the prize for the most disreputable - and, frankly, overtly racist - Presidential social media commentary so far.

Let’s ask this question: What do the four members of Congress have in common?

All are women, and are either black, Hispanic American, or of Middle Eastern or East African heritage.

Trump told them “to go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came".

Think about that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is from New York; Ayanna Pressley is from Massachusetts: Rashida Tlaib is a congresswoman from Michigan, and Ilhan Omar is from Minnesota.

Three of the four were born in America.

“You can’t leave fast enough,” Trump told the women on Twitter.

Leave for where?

It created an immediate backlash, although notably not from within the Republican Party, which is staying remarkably quiet (or complicit in the racist tropes, according to Democrats).

The Congresswomen themselves fired back.

Pressley declared simply: “This is what racism looks like.”

Tlaib - who is a proud Palestinian-American - said that Trump needed to be impeached.

Omar called Trump the most “corrupt and inept president we have ever seen".

Trump’s tweets have long been incendiary and provocative, often used to distract and dissemble from the news headline of the day.

But you can’t dismiss the President’s social media profile.

The tweets have real impact.

Over 60 million people follow President Trump on Twitter, and each tweet ricochets around the social media universe, and eventually reaches perhaps a third of all Americans in some way.

What is most disturbing is the thought that Trump may be be using this harsh white supremacist-type language as a preview for the 2020 campaign.

In other words, this may just be the start.