From Izvestia, Sept. 7, 2020, p. 2. Complete text:
Race has been a factor in the US political system since the country’s inception. Its significance increased sharply in the 1960s, when the centuries-long practice of official racism began to be replaced by affirmative action or “positive discrimination” policies – expressed, for example, in preferences for black people in hiring and school admissions. Democrats actively support that kind of policy, and Republicans just as energetically oppose it.
In the November 2016 presidential election, 8% of African-American voters cast their ballots for Donald Trump, while 88% of them voted for Hillary Clinton. The average Trump supporter in that election was a married white man over 45, Protestant or Catholic, with a high school or technical education and an income between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.
Gross domestic product growth in the US between 2017 and 2019 led to increasing incomes for the main groups within the workforce and a historically low unemployment rate. That allowed Donald Trump to significantly increase his electoral support by the spring of 2020, including among black Americans, who were also affected by that growth.
With a presidential election coming, the electoral strategy of both the Republicans and Democrats looks simple: Hold on to their own electorate and bring over some of their opponent’s voters. One of the most visible slogans among Democratic Party leaders during the 2020 election is “Trump is a racist.”
The first way this slogan is being promoted is through the use of information technology. For example, if you search for “racist” on Twitter, you might end up on President Trump’s official page. His “racist” image is being actively promoted on social networks, and being repeated by many media outlets, including the CNN television channel and The New York Times.
The second tactic is the use of racially motivated riots, which have been growing in number in recent years, for electoral purposes. The starting point for the current wave [of racial unrest] is considered to be the bloody clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017, between marching members of the ultraright organization Unite the Right and their opponents, who included many African-Americans. At that time, troops had to be brought into the city, and Trump’s “racist” image was reinforced: He condemned the riots, but not the right-wing radicals who provoked them.
Racially motivated clashes in the US hit a peak in the summer of 2020, after the death of George Floyd, a black American, while being arrested by Derek Chauvin, a white policeman, and in the wake of growing public attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. Violence on the streets has swept across the entire US in recent months, leading to the destruction of stores, banks and monuments to historical figures.
The need to respond to the lawlessness of some Black Lives Matters devotees divided the leaders of American cities and states into two camps. Republican Party supporters saw the death of George Floyd as merely an abuse of power by a police officer, and they put their hopes in the customary judicial process to handle the incident. But Democrats saw this tragedy as an opportunity to mobilize both African-Americans and radicals from other population groups (including radical leftist members of the largely virtual Antifa movement) against “racist Trump.”
Both parties have made mistakes, and the main reason is that they did not take the pandemic into account.
Republicans were unable to foresee its catastrophic consequences for the US. Paradoxically, the world’s most influential superpower has also suffered the worst from COVID‑19, with over 6 million positive cases, almost 190,000 deaths, and 40 million people unemployed. The pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of the American health care and social welfare systems. A recent investigation by The Washington Postrevealed that counties with a predominantly black population have triple the coronavirus infection rate and six times the death rate from COVID‑19 as counties where the population is predominantly white. Black Americans employed in the low-paying service sector were the first to lose their jobs, and they cannot work remotely because they often are not in professions that allow work to be relocated to a home office. As a result, African-American support for Trump has begun to disappear.
Democrats, for their part, have clearly sided too strongly with the Black Lives Matter movement. When ultimatums from its leaders and violent mob actions began to pose a threat to national security, they could not quickly switch gears to criticize it.
The American voters who condemn racism still demand that the government ensure order on the streets and safety for their families. When it comes to this issue, the race factor disappears, and all key population groups generate demand for “law and order.” From the point of view of ordinary Americans, the police must protect private property, the cornerstone of the American system and the basis for achieving the “American dream.” If the leaders of the Democratic Party have forgotten that, then voters from various racial groups will remind them at the November election.