Trump won with low mi­nor­ity vote, fu­el­ing rifts

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Don­ald Trump won the US pres­i­dency with less sup­port from black and His­panic vot­ers than any pres­i­dent in at least 40 years, a Reuters re­view of polling data shows, high­light­ing deep na­tional di­vi­sions that have fu­eled in­ci­dents of racial and po­lit­i­cal con­fronta­tion. Trump was elected with 8 per­cent of the black vote, 28 per­cent of the His­panic vote and 27 per­cent of the Asian-Amer­i­can vote, ac­cord­ing to the Reuters/Ip­sos Elec­tion Day poll.

Among black vot­ers, his show­ing was com­pa­ra­ble to the 9 per­cent cap­tured by Ge­orge W. Bush in 2000 and Ron­ald Rea­gan in 1984. But Bush and Rea­gan both did far bet­ter with His­panic vot­ers, cap­tur­ing 35 per­cent and 34 per­cent, re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to exit polling data com­piled by the non-par­ti­san Roper Cen­ter for Pub­lic Opin­ion Re­search. And Trump’s per­for­mance among AsianAmer­i­cans was the worst of any win­ning pres­i­den­tial can­di­date since track­ing of that de­mo­graphic be­gan in 1992.

The racial po­lar­iza­tion be­hind Trump’s vic­tory has helped set the stage for ten­sions that have sur­faced re­peat­edly since the elec­tion, in white su­prem­a­cist vic­tory cel­e­bra­tions, in anti-Trump protests and civil rights ral­lies, and in hun­dreds of racist, xeno­pho­bic and anti-Semitic hate crimes doc­u­mented by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter (SPLC), which tracks ex­trem­ist move­ments. The SPLC re­ports there were 701 in­ci­dents of “hate­ful ha­rass­ment and in­tim­i­da­tion” be­tween the day fol­low­ing the Nov. 8 elec­tion and Nov. 16, with a spike in such in­ci­dents in the im­me­di­ate wake of the vote.

Signs point to an on­go­ing at­mos­phere of con­fronta­tion. The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a white sep­a­ratist group that vil­i­fies African-Amer­i­cans, Jews and other mi­nori­ties, plans an un­usual Dec 3 rally in North Carolina to cel­e­brate Trump’s vic­tory. Left-wing and an­ar­chist groups have called for or­ga­nized protests to dis­rupt the pres­i­dent-elect’s Jan 20 in­au­gu­ra­tion. And a “Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton,” sched­uled for the fol­low­ing day, is ex­pected to draw hun­dreds of thou­sands to protest Trump’s pres­i­dency.

Amer­i­can pol­i­tics be­came in­creas­ingly racial­ized through Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s two terms, “but there was an at­tempt across the board, across the par­ties, to keep those ten­sions un­der the sur­face,” says Jamila Mich­ener, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of govern­ment at Cor­nell Univer­sity. Trump’s anti-im­mi­grant, anti-Mus­lim rhetoric “brought those di­vi­sions to the fore; it ac­ti­vated peo­ple on the right, who felt em­pow­ered, and it ac­ti­vated peo­ple on the left, who saw it as a threat,” she added.

That dy­namic was ev­i­dent last week. When Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence at­tended the Broad­way musical “Hamil­ton” in New York on Friday, the multi-eth­nic cast closed with a state­ment ex­press­ing fears of a Trump pres­i­dency. A far dif­fer­ent view was on dis­play the next day as a crowd of about 275 peo­ple cheered Trump’s elec­tion at a Wash­ing­ton con­fer­ence of the Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute, a white na­tion­al­ist group with a strong anti-Semitic be­liefs. “We willed Don­ald Trump into of­fice; we made this dream our re­al­ity,” NPI Pres­i­dent Richard Spencer said. After out­lin­ing a vi­sion of America as “a white coun­try de­signed for our­selves and our pos­ter­ity,” he closed with, “Hail Trump! Hail our peo­ple! Hail vic­tory!”

Di­vi­sion Breeds Con­fronta­tion

Though Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory was driven by white vot­ers, his per­for­mance even among that group was not as strong as some of his pre­de­ces­sors. Rea­gan and Ge­orge H W Bush both won the pres­i­dency with higher shares of the white vote than the 55 per­cent that Trump achieved. The his­tor­i­cal vot­ing pat­terns re­flect decades of po­lar­iza­tion in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, but the di­vi­sion sur­round­ing Trump ap­pears more pro­found, says Cas Mudde, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in po­lit­i­cal ex­trem­ism at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia. These days, he adds, “peo­ple say they don’t want their chil­dren even to date some­one from the other party.”

In­deed, vot­ers’ opin­ions of those on the op­po­site side of the par­ti­san di­vide have reached his­toric lows. Sur­veys by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter showed this year that ma­jori­ties of both par­ties held “very un­fa­vor­able” views of the other party - a first since the cen­ter first mea­sured such sen­ti­ment in 1992. And the lion’s share of those peo­ple believe the op­pos­ing party’s poli­cies “are so mis­guided that they threaten the na­tion’s well-be­ing,” the cen­ter found.

That level of di­vi­sion has spurred ac­tivists on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide to take their ac­tivism in a more con­fronta­tional di­rec­tion. In the wake of Trump’s vic­tory, pro­test­ers on the left took to the streets by the thou­sands in cities across the coun­try, in some cases caus­ing prop­erty dam­age. Much of the ag­i­ta­tion was mo­ti­vated by a be­lief that Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion will fos­ter racism and push the courts and other po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions to dis­en­fran­chise mi­nor­ity vot­ers, says James An­der­son, ed­i­tor of It­sGo­ingDown.Org, an an­ar­chist web­site that has pro­moted mass demon­stra­tions against Trump’s pres­i­dency, in­clud­ing a call to dis­rupt his in­au­gu­ra­tion. — Reuters

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