Why Trump’s Racist Campaign Won’t Work

Majority of Americans Recognize Racism Is a Big Problem and Disapprove of President’s Handling of Race Relations

Credit: Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune, UT

George Floyd’s murder, which we all witnessed on video, created a critical mass on racism in the U.S. Recent polling found that 76 percent of Americans consider racism and discrimination a big problem, with 67 percent of us disapproving of the way Trump is handling race relations. Nevertheless, Donald Trump persists in running a racist campaign.

Trump believes he can rally his base to an Electoral College victory in November by calling the painting of “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) on Fifth Avenue a “symbol of hate”; defending the flying of the Confederate battle flag as a First Amendment right; calling statues of Confederate soldiers a part of our heritage that should be preserved; telling suburban housewives that he will keep them safe from low-income minorities moving into their neighborhoods (in spite of the reality that suburbia has become integrated); and that by sending federal troops to Portland to have Americans attack other Americans (BLM protesters), he sufficiently “wagged the dog” to help his reelection.

In my last article, “Critical Mass Determines Elections,” I argued that Trump’s denial of the harm COVID-19 is doing is symptomatic of his being out of touch with reality. His views on racism are another sign that our president is out of touch with what is happening in our country.

A Monmouth University poll found 57 percent of voters thought the anger behind the Black Lives Matter demonstrations was fully justified, with 21 percent calling it somewhat justified. The same polling showed that a majority of Americans believe that the police are more likely to use deadly force against African-Americans, and that there is discrimination against Black Americans in society. The world has changed. In 2013, when Black Lives Matter began, a majority of voters disagreed with all of these statements.

If there is any doubt that Trump has terribly missed the mark by running a racist campaign, consider that NASCAR, whose fan base includes white Southerners and the MAGA crowd, banned the Confederate flag as “contrary to … providing an inclusive environment for all our fans [and]competitors”; that the Nationals and Yankees and Dodgers and Giants all took the knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter as the Major League Baseball (America’s pastime) season got underway; and that on opening night of the NBA’s rebooted season, the Lakers and Clippers locked arms and all knelt together during the playing of the national anthem, with “Black Lives Matter” painted on the playing floor.

For those of us tired of and frightened by Trumpism, it’s important to understand that the BLM movement has galvanized a coalition of nonwhite voters capable of ensuring Trump’s defeat in November — if they turn out and vote.

In November, nonwhite people will account for a third of all eligible voters, their largest share ever. This includes approximately 32 million Hispanic Americans, 30 million Black Americans, 11 million Asian Americans, and 3.5 million Native Americans. What Trump and his campaign have missed is that the BLM movement includes Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, as well as African Americans and whites. In swing states like Arizona, Latinos marched alongside Black protesters with signs saying “Tu lucha es mi lucha” (“Your struggle is my struggle”). Asian Americans showed up at BLM protests across the country with signs saying “Asians4BlackLives.” And Native Americans throughout Indian Country have identified their own genocide with the BLM struggle.

It’s been a long time coming, but the symbolism of presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama eulogizing civil-rights icon John Lewis — with President Trump not in attendance — said it all. The majority of us wants and needs a fully integrated America. Polling shows that Biden is leading Trump in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — battleground states all. If we come together on November 3 and vote, Biden can win both the popular vote and the Electoral College and move us into an era where hate recedes and Black Lives Matter.

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