Two trends in US voting don’t seem to have gone the way some would have expected it to.
One, young educated White males don’t seem to have been put off by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as much as many liberals had expected. Second, black voters don’t seem to have rallied to the booths to make sure Trump did not get through to the White House. (Yes, that might become a bit of an unhappy pun!)
Both these trends have helped Donald Trump. A more accurate reading might be that both groups of voters were not enamoured sufficiently by the alternative. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s smart, not-so-correct, establishmentarian image did not inspire confidence. Most of all, she lacked the warmth and enthusiasm that President Obama displayed in his last campaign appearance on her behalf on Monday.
The image that Clinton is not above board in financial and administrative morality, apparently, did make a significant impact.
If indeed many Black voters did decide to stay away from polling booths, it is a dangerous trend. It needs to be read in the sombre light of several attacks against Black citizens by policemen and vigilantes across parts of the US. It would seem to indicate a general disillusionment with the system overall – a sense that the cards are not only stacked against a Black young man, the dealer isn’t fair either.
Remember, Black voters across the US had voted in large numbers for the incumbent, the first Black to hold the office of President in the US. There was tremendous hope when Barack Obama was elected eight years ago, a conviction that the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s had taken a quantum leap, that Black people would feel empowered and energised. That did not happen.
In fact, the rise of Trump shows that the US is moving the other way. If turnout is an indication, too many Black people seem to have given up. That is not good.
Commentary on education
The other - converse - trend is also worrying. If educated young White men voted for Trump in larger numbers than had been expected, it indicates that this key demographic segment is not so averse to Trump’s upfront xenophobia, racism, and misogyny. On the other hand, it would indicate that Trump read the national mood right. Like a good businessman, he tailored his campaign to a newly expanding market.
That is a sad commentary on contemporary education in the US. Liberalism is not as strongly entrenched as many of us had thought. Perhaps, we focus too much on Ivy League institutions and do not adequately take into account (perhaps still incipient) hidden trends in colleges and universities across the US.
What this means is that xenophobia and misogyny are okay with far more young White males in the US than most had thought. The sixties and seventies are long gone – and it is the liberalism of that time that formed the early Clintons.
Fear is the key
Fear of the other, seen in the frame of terrorist, is apparently far more widespread than most of the liberal media had realised. It was remarkable that Trump’s early discourse about Latino migrants as not only 'illegal' but as 'rapists' and other kinds of criminal brought him enough support to make him a serious contender. Then it brought him enough support to win him the Republican nomination, and now, it would seem, the Presidency too.
All these trends indicate that a large swathe of people in the US think of the world in terms of a clash of 'civilisations'.
The Brexit vote this summer already indicated this about the UK, which prided itself on having a 'multi-cultural' society just a couple of decades ago. Trends in France, Holland, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Russia and closer home indicate that citizens in the US and the UK are not the only ones.
This does not augur well for world peace.
First Published On : Nov 9, 2016 12:56 IST