Trump’s eth­no­cen­trism will bring vot­ers to the polls

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Eth­no­cen­trism is car­ry­ing Don­ald Trump to the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent, although it may con­demn him to de­feat in the Novem­ber election, says Van­der­bilt Univer­sity po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Cindy D. Kam.

Eth­no­cen­trism is the ten­dency to par­ti­tion the hu­man world into in-groups and out-groups: into “us” against “them.” These groups might be based on na­tion­al­ity, race-eth­nic­ity, or re­li­gion, or any other salient so­cial cat­e­gory.

“Don­ald Trump is an ex­cel­lent case of eth­no­cen­tric rhetoric,” says Kam, Wil­liam R. Ke­nan, Jr. Pro­fes­sor of Po­lit­i­cal Science at Van­der­bilt. “Any­time he speaks it’s usu­ally about us against them. For ex­am­ple, think­ing about pro­tect­ing the coun­try against Mus­lims (and) think­ing about build­ing a wall be­tween the United States and Mex­ico.”

Kam and co-au­thor Don­ald Kinder ap­plied the term “eth­no­cen­trism” to pol­i­tics in 2009 in their book Us Against Them: Eth­no­cen­tric Foun­da­tions of Amer­i­can Opin­ion (The Univer­sity of Chicago Press), and their find­ings prove con­sis­tent to­day. They found that eth­no­cen­trism in­forms a wide range of pol­icy opin­ions, in­clud­ing sup­port for war, op­po­si­tion to for­eign aid and op­po­si­tion to im­mi­gra­tion.

The ram­pant eth­no­cen­trism in Trump’s words likely ac­counts for much of his pop­u­lar­ity and un­prece­dented rise as the Repub­li­can Party nom­i­nee. Trump might try to move to the cen­tre on some is­sues after he gets the nom­i­na­tion and needs to at­tract more mod­er­ate vot­ers in the gen­eral election. But then he would risk los­ing his eth­no­cen­tric base.

“When it comes to the gen­eral election, eth­no­cen­trism will not carry Don­ald Trump to the White House,” Kam says. “I pre­dict that he will have to mod­er­ate some of his stances.”

Eth­no­cen­tric vot­ers find Trump’s rhetoric ap­peal­ing. Less eth­no­cen­tric vot­ers find it of­fen­sive. Ei­ther way, “it has got­ten or­di­nary peo­ple talk­ing about pol­i­tics in a way I don’t think we’ve seen in quite a while,” Kam says. “I think cam­paigns like these are mo­ments for the coun­try to come to­gether and not just pick who is go­ing to be elected into the White House, but to think about who we are as a coun­try and what our val­ues are.

Trump may mo­ti­vate a good many vot­ers who want to en­sure that he doesn’t win, Kam says. Dur­ing the pri­mary sea­son, these vot­ers haven’t had a for­mal out­let to ex­press their frus­tra­tion with him.

“The me­dia has fo­cused on his rise within the Repub­li­can con­stituency among some core vot­ers, but there’s a whole set of peo­ple who find his eth­no­cen­tric rhetoric to be quite re­pelling,” Kam says. “And if he ends up be­ing in the gen­eral election, they will do their darnedest to make sure he doesn’t get elected.”

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