The racism in US cities is a reflection of the rage of polarization
The summer heat has its way to bring our political passions to life. The American and French revolutions both started in earnest with the scorching air stuck to the skin of each soldier in June and July. In 1967, a “long hot summer” of violence clashed in most major cities across the United States as protesters against police brutality and racial injustice challenged police and the national guard. Similar demonstrations took place the following autumn, and — as today — a fiercely contested presidential election. The existing unrest in America is similar in many respects to the protests of the twentieth century, with young people and minorities expressing grievances about both racial inequality and their government affairs. But two recent developments tend both to escalate the conflicts between demonstrators and their supporters and to diminish the likelihood of the government seeking a solution: political animosity and political anger.Political polarization and fierce partisanship.
The 1968 turmoil is the most evident parallel to the one of today. Then, the party leaders of “law and order” were Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew of the Republican Party, pledging to come down hard on the aggression and extend sentence structure for rioters. The election that year has also been a significant cause for America ‘s marriage of race and political party. The electoral strategies of Nixon and Agnew probably helped them capitalize on the wrath and anxiety of many white voters. Omar Wasow, a political scientist at Princeton University , found in a new research article about the contest that the protests of the year “possibly triggered a 1.5–7.9 percent change between whites against Republicans and tipped the race. “Since then, it has become a cornerstone of the Republican Party ‘s electoral playbook characterizing protests as racial violence and promising to “crack down” on it.The libertarian protest politicisation has continued to this day.
The rise of Donald Trump in 2016 was linked to his ongoing campaign against immigration across the southern border, but many of his supporters might have had in their minds the mid-2010s Ferguson and Baltimore riots. It is no hollow generalization to admit that Republicans rely on white — and non-white Democrats — for their electoral success; according to a study published by the pew poll on June 2nd, 81 percent of Republican voters are white, while only 59 percent of Democrats are white. Offered a choice between Joe Biden and Mr Trump, African-Americans select almost 90 percent of the time for the Democrats’ presidential candidate. The growing whiteness of the Republican Party over the years has made progress on racial justice less likely. Although white voters typically identify with the concerns of African-Americans over police brutality, they focus on crime and vandalism in the resulting demonstrations, rather than on the wider social context. For instance, the majority of both whites and Republicans told YouGov that race was a major or minor cause of the death of George Floyd. But most also said the protests were the result of “long-standing bias against the police” from black Americans, rather than “a legitimate desire to hold police officers responsible”.
White Democrats, on the other hand, on racial issues have shifted to the left, a product of political division and “ethnic sorting.” As African-American activists’ ideas were adopted by Democratic elites, so did the Liberal whites that remained in the party. This has changed the average protester’s portrait, too. Black Americans are now entered by whites and Hispanics, young and old, protesting against police violence. Trying to demonstrate brutality against police has become political and ideological and not just racial. And ideological and not only racial.
The huge, wrathful sort not only have America’s political parties grown further apart racially over the past 60 years; they have also become angrier with each other. Steven Webster, a political scientist at Indiana University, finds in “American Rage” a forthcoming book on the subject that American ratings of the opposing party have fallen by about 40 percent since 1960.Party affiliation is not only a result of a positive relationship with one side of the street, claims Mr Webster, but also a derogatory stance about the other. He theorizes that the media and political leaders baited voters to see the other side as fundamental challenges to their livelihood; as a party to be disdained, not to cooperate with. Probably more importantly, Mr Webster believes both parties have a fair share of angry voters. Some screaming for “peace and order” in unsavoury areas of the right; rage on the left bursts into rioting and looting. And he claims that this frustration constitutes a fundamental threat to the US government. Mr Webster argues that when people switch from being intensely angry (e.g. in reaction to police shooting) to being typically so (e.g., regularly protesting aggressively against both the state), they ‘re losing trust in the national government, losing their loyalty to democratic norms and principles, and weakening their loyalty to minority rights. People that disagree with them politically believe they are a threesome.
In brief, Nixon and Mr Trump’s manipulated racial anger is not just a political tool, but it is also damaging to the country. So too is the anger towards its police among some Democrats. Mr Webster goes on to say that Republicans’ short-term capitalization of enraged whites is a long-standing political strategy, “but this moment we could also find left-wing manipulation of the activists.” aristocracy Democrats are likely to tell supporters that they should be angry with police brutality, that they should be angry with racial inequality, and that they should be angry with the president. Why? Why? “And an angry elector is a faithful voter,” Mr Webster says. He finds that 30-40% of voters who feel angry some or all of the time are so-called “negative partisans”—those who view the other party as risks to the nation and indignant of their votes. By comparison, most voters who seldom or never feel bitter are much more cooperative.
Presidential election this year has mostly been void of the race ‘s angry politics. The president has started campaigning (and tweeted) much more about socialism and coronavirus-derived limitations on movement.
Now Mr Trump can return to the same racial division politics that last served him. Speaking in the garden of the White House on June 1st, he called protesters “thugs,” “criminals” and “looters,” and promised “serious criminal penalties and long prison sentences. “Recent decades, such a phrase has acted as a code for some white voters that Republicans stand with them against African-American “racist mobs” (Mr Trump again) disrupting their harmony. There is no question about the racialization of the movement.
If democratic politicians fall prey to this familiar trap, defending the riots in the name of racial justice, mobilizing anger around the assassination of George Floyd could meet an ill-fated, politicised ending. But if activists remain non-violent and peaceful in their demonstrations against racism and racial discrimination, America will be able to make progress on police reform and racial disparity, which is desperately required.
Author: Nidhi Sri,
Lloyd law college, 3rd year student, law