Professor Tuman Discusses Political Fallout of Family Separation

Friday, June 22, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- Going against the president’s policy — or at least what was the policy before he reversed course Wednesday — is a tough call for Republicans.

“It’s an extremely narrow line to walk,” because Trump has shown that he can destroy a Republican like South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford with a single tweet, said Joseph Tuman, a professor of political and legal communication at San Francisco State. Sanford faced a primary challenge from a Republican who pledged greater loyalty to the president. On election day, Trump endorsed the challenger, and Sanford lost.

In politics, “optics” are often what powers an issue like the family separation, Tuman said. “The voice of a crying child is something every parent recognizes, and they feel they need to respond. That’s one reason this issue just blew up with the public.”

With a recent CNN poll showing that two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the policy of splitting children from their families, the safest place for Republican politicians, especially in heavily Democratic California, may be on the other side of Trump’s policy, Tuman said.