By Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk/Tribune News Service
So, what can American citizens expect from a President Trump? Columnists Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk debate the issue.
What was striking to me on Tuesday night – as the truth emerged that Donald Trump would be our next president – was the pain and terror and sheer fear expressed by so many people of colour. Conservatives get angry when they’re told Trump ran a racist campaign, but the palpable, undeniable truth is that it sure felt racist to people whose communities have historically been victims of discrimination.
This isn’t because Trump voters are bad people. It’s because people of colour have paid close attention to Trump and his rhetoric. For them, the future is quite scary.
If you’re Latino, you’re now being thrust into a country where the colour of your skin or your Spanish surname invites suspicion that you’re not really a citizen of the United States. If you’re a young person who came as a child to America with undocumented parents and grew up here – functionally, if not legally, an American – you face a greater likelihood of being forced to return to a “home” country where you have few connections to the people and the culture.
If you’re Arab, you’ve probably already spent the last two decades under discomfiting scrutiny from the government and your neighbours. It’s only going to get worse. And your family members fleeing violence in Syria? There’s a greatly reduced they’ll be able to join you in America. The Trump administration will, if it keeps his promises, turn those refugees away at the border.
If you’re African-American, you probably already know what it’s l ike to be stopped for driving while black – pulled over by police for no apparent reason. President Trump won’t have direct oversight of the nation’s police forces, but the Department of Justice is about to get far less interested in civil rights violations by police.
With a reduced threat of accountability by the feds, the problems that animate the Black Lives Matter movement are probably going to get worse before they get better.
This is what we voted for. If Trump keeps his promises, America is about to feel a lot meaner to many of its citizens.
Eight years of identity politics run rampant has done more to sow discord in the United States than anything Trump has said, let alone had a chance to do.
The liberal case against Trump was built on snark, insinuation, distortion and calumny. “He’s a bigot.” “He’s a fascist.” “He’s a threat to democracy.” Those are not arguments. Those are assertions. There could be no reasonable response – none except what a plurality of voters did on Tuesday.
Defeating Hillary Clinton was a rebuke and repudiation of a noxious premise. Race relations are arguably far worse today than they were eight year ago. Voters clearly had enough of the divisiveness – so they went with the candidate the press labelled the most divisive in decades. Go figure.
Trump rejected the language of race. Instead, he spoke candidly to black voters. At an August rally in Michigan, he said: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed – what the hell do you have to lose?”
At least some voters seemed to give him the benefit of the doubt. Exit poll data show Trump improving the GOP’s standing with African-Americans. Eight per cent of black voters went for Trump, compared with just 6% four years ago. Not bad considering one summer survey had Trump polling at zero with black voters.
As Manhattan Institute senior fellow Oren Cass points out in a post-election analysis for City Journal, real turnout analysis will have to await a final vote count. “But,” he writes, “the available data runs directly counter to the casual assumption that Trump’s victory relied on narrow and exclusionary appeal, that it indicates an ascendant white identity politics, or that it portends further segregation of the electorate.”
On election night, Trump said: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” Not just whites. Trump has set out an ambitious agenda. Who knows whether he can pay for it, much less get it past a wary Republican Congress. But the post-election meanness so far has come largely from one side – and it isn’t the winning one.
* Joel Mathis is an award-winning writer in Kansas. Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness. Reach them at [email protected], [email protected], or www.facebook.com/benandjoel
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