'He just doesn't get it': has Trump been left behind by America's awakening on racism?
Photo: Alex Brandon / AP
Long-time Donald Trump observers have often compared him to an old man sitting at the end of a bar, holding up with crazy opinions, overwhelming self-confidence, and taboo-breaking shock that is guaranteed to attract a lot.
Now, perhaps for the first time, the US president seems to have lost the room.
Trump's sixth sense of populist notes seems to have left him after the death of George Floyd, an African American who was killed when a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes and sparked protests against Black Lives Matter nationwide.
For the past three weeks, the President has been on the wrong side of public opinion - and history - in everything from police reform to confederacy symbols that waged a civil war 150 years ago to preserve slavery. Even a sport that is synonymous with its base, Nascar (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), is on a different wavelength and has excluded the Confederate flag from its events.
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Some presidents hold on for a moment and give voice to a movement. However, at this time of national reckoning, Trump appears to have hit the wrong marks that don't match many (if not all) of the rest of the nation.
"Whether it is about shooting protesters or putting dogs on them, defending the defense of the confederate names of military institutions or arguing that his followers love the black people, Mr. Trump increasingly sounds like a cultural relic that is not only from the Leftists are detached - protesters on the streets, but also in the political center of the country and even some Republican allies and their own military leaders, ”the New York Times wrote on Thursday.
I have never seen opinions change so quickly or so deeply. Frank Luntz, Republican adviser
The uprising over Floyd's murder and over four centuries of slavery, segregation and injustice required space and time to heal, no time to fight. But Trump's entire political identity is based on conflict. At the height of the demonstrations, he staged a bizarre photo in front of a church after the police used tear gas to clear peaceful demonstrators outside the White House. In an unprecedented announcement this week, General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, apologized for attending.
Meanwhile, Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow said, "I don't think there is systemic racism in the United States." When asked if the president believes there is an issue with institutional racism, spokesman Kayleigh McEnany replied, "I think this is the fourth time I've been asked about it, and I said every time: There are injustices, that we have seen ... and I would say that this President has done much more than the Democrats ever when it comes to correcting injustices. "
However, the public mood recognizes that racism is systemic and not just a case of "bad apples". The crowds that protested in 750 U.S. cities in more than two weeks were strikingly diverse. After Floyd's death, a Monmouth University poll found 57% of Americans (and 49% of whites) felt that the police were more likely to use excessive violence against African Americans compared to only 33% of Americans after Eric Garner from New York was killed in 2014.
Frank Luntz, a Republican adviser and focus group organizer, tweeted: "In my 35 years of polling, I've never seen such a quick or profound change in opinion. We are a different country today than we did 30 days ago. The political, economic and social The consequences are too big to fit in a tweet. "
Even Trump's enabler and executor, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, seemed to get the memo. "We are still struggling with America's original sin," he told reporters, adding that Senate Republicans are working on a police reform plan to tackle the "apparent racial discrimination we've seen on our television screens in the past two weeks." " ”.
But when Republicans who fear losing their Senate majority in November feel the weight of public opinion, Trump remains defiant. His attempt to equip Nixon's "law and order" campaign seems increasingly contradictory as violence and looting faded and the protests became mostly peaceful.
When he held a round table on police work in Dallas on Thursday, he failed to invite the three best law enforcement officers in the county, all of whom are black, and repeated his request that the police "dominate" the streets. "If someone is really bad, you have to do it with real strength, real strength," he said.
That evening, the conservative Fox News channel, usually a safe place, turned into treacherous ground. Interviewer Harris Faulkner said: "You look at me and I am Harris on TV but I am a black woman. I am a mother. You talked about it but we did not see that you came out and in this case this one Are consolation. "
The president rarely seemed so isolated, both from the public and from his own party
On Friday, Pew Research published the results of a survey of 9,654 people conducted between June 4 and 10, and found that six out of ten respondents felt Trump's response to the protests was wrong, including 39% who believed that she was completely wrong and 21% think that it is mostly wrong. Only 37% say that his message was complete or largely correct.
LaTosha Brown, civil rights activist and co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, said: “He's basically a fascist when you look at his actions. He was deaf and disrespectful. He has shown how far he is willing to dismantle democracy. It is the epitome of why people protest. He embodies white supremacy, structural racism and someone who has no value in human rights. "
The president rarely seemed so isolated, both from the public and from his own party. When he tweeted an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old demonstrator who was knocked down by the police in Buffalo, New York, was actually linked to the anti-fascist fringe movement known as Antifa, the Republicans declined to support them grant. Ducking and weaving as a reporter confronted her with a printout of the tweet.
Then a Republican-led Senate body approved on Thursday a plan by Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts democrat, to remove Confederate names from military bases and other Pentagon assets. Trump, who was apparently on the side of the slave-holding loser in the civil war, declared his opposition preventively and threatened to veto laws that were supposed to change it.
Demonstrators have also targeted Confederate monuments in numerous cities and prompted some government officials to consider abolishing them. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, who urges that Confederate statues be removed from the US Capitol, said of the president: "He appears to be the only person who doesn't get it."
And this week, Nascar announced that it would be banning the display of the Confederate flag at its races, and Bubba Wallace, a black driver, wore a “I can't breathe” t-shirt and drove a Chevy that said “Black Lives Matter ”the page on a track in Martinsville, Virginia. This was particularly important as the Nascar organizers and drivers have long performed with Trump and his rallies have a Nascar-like feel with their wild atmosphere and blue collar, which is mostly white.
On Thursday, two days after George Floyd's funeral, Trump announced its first campaign rally after a three-month hiatus due to a distant pandemic. It was declared that it would take place on June 19 - a day dedicated to the honor of black emancipation, Juneteenth - and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the scene of a terrible racial massacre in 1921. "Consider it a celebration," he told Fox News on Friday, despite turmoil about timing and location. "My rally is a festival."
Finally, on Friday night, he bowed to the criticism and tweeted that the rally would be postponed to June 20. "Many of my African American friends and supporters have tried to change the date ... out of respect for this holiday," he wrote.
In the meantime, Tuesday will be the fifth anniversary of Trump declaring his candidacy as president on charges that Mexico sends drugs, crime and rapists to the US that can only stop a border wall. His racial bait campaign flew conventional wisdom in an increasingly diverse America and sentenced him to defeat in the plebiscite - but he threaded a needle into the electoral college.
Tara Setmayer, a political commentator and former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, said: “Those who know the history of this country must recognize that systemic racism is the original American sin.
"There is a significant amount of Donald Trump's base that houses this kind of antiquated, bigoted minority attitudes in this country. He started his entire campaign with groundless charges of racial birthright against Obama and the persecution of Mexicans as rapists and criminals, and he gets that feeling on the head. There's a reason why this country's racists and white supremacists are supporting Donald Trump. Why is that? "
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