Will Trump be able to win under current conditions?
Recently violent protests against the death of a black man George Floyd in police custody in the United States have been seen in many other countries around the world, including in the United States. The United States has failed to protect parity, social justice and human rights after the death of an African American citizen.
More than half of the states of this country, with all the cultures known as Mahadesh by region, are burning in the fire of protest against racial hatred. To curb these protests, the US government used tear gas shells, rubber bullets and the US President called the protesters ‘thugs’ and threatened to shoot and use the army against them. Granted.
If the same protests were taking place in a non-western nation and the president there used such language, US State Department, British, France and Germany Foreign Office would immediately condemn the government there and call for respect for human rights. And the American Congress would also enact or ban laws against the ‘cruel’ rule of that nation.
But this time the country itself is witnessing violent protests, police brutality and presidential threats. Oddly enough, the President Trump threatened to use the most lethal weapons on the protestors. By doing this, he not only ridiculed the decades-long equality of African Americans, but also American Presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and black leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s martyrdom have also been insulted.
The protests have spread to almost all major cities in the US, reminiscent of the protests that followed the April 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Analysts point out that these protests in the US are not just the cause of the killing of a black citizen, but the circumstances that have come to light through the ‘riots’ are the anger of thousands of Americans who are fighting many obstacles at the same time.
The year 1968 was one of the most fluctuating years in modern American history.
It is noteworthy that protests were already taking place in the US against the Vietnam War that on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee State. At the same time, after two months, Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles.
Dr. King’s assassination triggered violent protests in American cities called the ‘Holy Week Rebellion.’ This violent uprising was carried out by most black youth in the United States, including Washington DC, Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City which revived the memory of the American Civil War.
Political connections of 1968 and 2020
The black community suffered greatly from the Covid-19 epidemic, in which more than 100,000 US citizens have died so far. Before the death of George Floyd, the United States was already grappling with massive economic and health crises. America is witnessing the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1929. While the death of black civilian Floyd served as a spark for the anger of the American public, the provocative language of President Trump made these protests violent. There are many similarities between the year 1968 and the year 2020 in American history.
The United States has witnessed racial violence many times in the past, with most protests occurring locally. But the present-day protests are similar to the protests of 1968. Which New Yorker editor David Remnick called ‘an American rebellion’. The cause of this rebellion is the intangibly divided country struggling to meet the triple challenges of a deadly transition (Covid-19), unemployment and deteriorating race relations.
Trump’s new electoral move
In 1968, US President Lyndon B. Johnson deployed the National Guards to suppress the protests, but he said in a letter to the American Congress the next day after Dr. Luther King’s assassination that the demands King Jr stood for would be respected. One of these demands was the passing of the ‘Fair Housing Act’. As a result, within five days the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title VIII, known as the ‘Fair Housing Act’ was passed by the House of Representatives by a large margin.
However, the way President Trump is handling the situation, it seems that his rapid response is militaristic which has so far provoked the protesters and deepened the divide in American society. Due to the upcoming presidential election, President Trump is following the line of former President Richard Nixon. Following the protests in 1968, Richard Nixon called for ‘Law and Order’ in his election campaign. It was a racial message that encouraged the polarization of white citizens’ votes.
The ‘Law and Order’ campaign sparked a new life in Nixon’s political fortunes. Nixon won the presidential election that year. Thus it is clear that Trump may not bet on the economy again in the upcoming election as the US economy is in a critical state. Amid increasing violence and civil unrest, it is clear that Trump’s election campaign is a pivot of Nixon’s election campaign.
Will Trump win?
This is not the first time that thousands of people are protesting on the streets in the US and the situation has become worse that US President Donald Trump had to hide in the bunker. Racial violence has been taking place in America for the last 60 years. Here the distinction of black and white is not yet over. Every time such things happen, there is a craving on the streets of America, even after this, it has not been stopped in the last 60 years.
Following the Nixon campaign, President Trump threatened to use the military against the protesters, saying ‘I am your law and order president’. But there is a big difference between the present and the past. When Nixon started a campaign targeting the protesters, he was not the president. But Trump is currently the President of the United States and American cities are witnessing violent demonstrations under his watch. Now it remains to be seen whether Trump will be able to become the President of the US by dealing with the current conditions.
– The writer is a Research Scholar in Political Science, University of Delhi.