New Delhi: Most voters in the US are already polarised, but President Donald Trump sees a chance for further polarisation in the ongoing riots, ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said in episode 486 of Cut The Clutter.
Through his tweets, Trump has tried to associate the protests and riots with the Left-wing ideology. Traditionally, minorities in the US have been voting for Democrats, and the Republicans have tried to consolidate the rest of the vote.
Gupta said this is just like what happens in India. The question in the country since 1989 has been whether caste will divide the Hindu vote or not. If voters aren’t polarised on religion, then caste plays a role and caste-based parties like Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party or Rashtriya Janata Dal do well. But if the voters are polarised on religion, then the BJP consolidates the Hindu vote.
In the US, Republicans try to consolidate the white American vote. The majority of voters are white, so polarisation could be enough to win elections, Gupta said.
Even the slightest difference matters in America as the voting system follows a winner-takes-all verdict. In 2016, Trump won 26 states which were Republican strongholds, but he also won four states narrowly, which turned the election in his favour. Had Hillary Clinton won those, she would have been the president, explained Gupta.
Lately, Trump’s approval rating has fallen, with the disapproval rate crossing 50 per cent. He has chosen to follow the polarisation strategy to save his position, and the riots have given him the opportunity.
Former US President Richard Nixon had also used the same strategy, called protests as riots, and associated them with the Left.
Trump is running the whitest administration in recent times and his appeal is to the white American, said Gupta, explaining that such a strategy is also used by the Right in India, where the Right associates protest with the Left ideology and then associates the Left with extremists.
The Minnesota protests and why it matters
George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American, was killed by a white policeman in Minnesota on 25 May, leading to violent protests in the state and the rest of the country.
Minnesota has 10 electoral college votes. More importantly, Donald Trump had lost Minnesota in 2016, narrowly, by a margin of 1.52 per cent, said Gupta.
Now, Trump is trying to clinch the state by polarising the voters. In a tweet, the president called Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey a radical Left in an attempt to make the protests a Left/Right issue, Gupta added.
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
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