יום שבת, 9 ביולי 2016

Trump, Clinton run on opposite sides of a fractured America


'It feels like a fraying at the seams of the country.'

Three shootings in three days. Two candidates and two Americas.
This week’s outbreak of violence — two shootings of black men by police, followed by the killing of five police officers by a man wanting to “kill white people” — laid bare a country deeply fractured along racial lines, and political leaders who are each relying on those divisions, now baked into the American political system, to become the next president.
“In so many ways, you feel that there’s nobody that represents the whole,” said Peter Hart, who has been a Democratic pollster for 50 years. “That Donald Trump has his constituency. That Hillary Clinton has her constituency. And they are talking to their part of the world, and neither is really talking about how you knit a country back together.”

Both Clinton and Trump paused their campaigns on Friday. But even as they pledge healing and unity in a moment of national mourning, the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees are assembling competing political coalitions with so little overlap that it will be hard for either to emerge as a unifying figure.

The Democratic coalition — composed of urban white liberals and minorities — is more racially diverse than the GOP, which has been becoming older and more white for years. Yet if Clinton is to win, she will have to do it lifted by a tide of nonwhite voters. If Trump is to win, he’ll have to do it with a dramatic surge in turnout among the white electorate.

The resulting campaign has left the country hurtling toward the most racially divisive and acrimonious election in at least a generation.

“I think that we are headed for a very, very divided election based on race, unless one of the candidates can show some real innovative leadership and raise us above this moment,” said Al Sharpton, the prominent African-American leader and informal adviser to President Barack Obama.

Trump: Dallas shootings are 'attack on our country'

By Nick Gass

The Pew Center national poll this week showcased the split: Trump led Clinton among white voters, 51 percent to 42 percent. She crushed him among African-Americans (91 percent to 7 percent) and Latinos (66 percent to 24 percent).

“It feels like a fraying at the seams of the country,” Hart added, with more than a hint of resignation. “Not since 1968 have I felt that essentially the events are just overrunning the country.”

Many fear the coming campaign will accelerate the split.

“I just tremble at the thought of the radio and TV spots that will start running very shortly,” said Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “It’s going to continue to rip the country apart.”

“After the first Tuesday in November, unless something changes, we will be even more polarized politically and racially,” Cleaver said.

Resentment over police behavior goes back decades in many black communities, but the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — and subsequent scenes of police touting combat equipment into clashes with demonstrators — turned the struggle into a national conversation and saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

That November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot from a police car window in Cleveland. The list of nationally recognized names of black people killed by police continues to grow: Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and, this week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

There was a backlash. Two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were killed by a man claiming he sought revenge for Garner’s death and others. And Thursday, the seven wounded and five slain officers marked the single deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11.

Clinton has tried to straddle the divide while not angering African-American voters. “I will call for white people like myself to put ourselves in the shoes of those African-American families,” she said on CNN on Friday after the Dallas shooting. “We’re the ones who have to start listening to the legitimate cries from our fellow African-American citizens.”

GOP rips Obama after Dallas shooting

By Nick Gass

Clinton has spoken far more about unity than Trump, whose signature proposals include building a wall to keep Mexicans out of America and an immigration ban for Muslims. Indeed, Clinton adopted the slogan “Stronger Together” toward the end of the primaries to make the contrast with Trump clearer, promising repeatedly to build “bridges” instead of “walls.”

In the primary, Clinton tried touting a positive message about “love and kindness.” But it proved a hard sell from a candidate burdened by major issues surrounding her character. And since defeating Bernie Sanders, Clinton has found surer footing running with a more negative message, essentially running an anti-Trump campaign more often than making a positive case for herself.

In 2016, Trump’s base has been white men, particularly those without college degrees, and he has sided aggressively with law enforcement officers over the Black Lives Matter movement, which has sought to highlight the disproportionate deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

Referring to Black Lives Matter activists, Trump said last fall on Fox News, “I saw them with hate coming down the street last week talking about cops and police and what should be done to them, and that was not good. And I think it is a disgrace they are getting away with it. I think it’s disgraceful the way they are being catered to by the Democrats.”

At his rallies, Trump has for months made a point of thanking law enforcement officers. At one point in Iowa, Trump offered to pay the legal bills of anyone who would “knock the crap” out of any protester who would throwa tomato at him. And in a speech to the New England Police Benevolent Association last December, Trump said he would sign an executive order to mandate the death penalty for convicted killers of police.

“Anyone killing a policeman, policewoman, police officer, anybody killing a police officer — death penalty. It’s going to happen, OK? We can’t let this go,” he said.

On Friday, Trump, who in the past has taken credit for “calling” previous terror attacks, took a more somber tone following the shooting in Dallas that left five police officers dead, the most in an single event since 9/11.

He issued a subdued, six-paragraph exclamation-point free statement, decrying both the “execution-style shootings” in Dallas of police, and the “senseless, tragic” deaths of African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

“Our nation has become too divided,” Trump said, concluding, “This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion.”

Activists press Clinton, Trump to act after police shootings

By Tyler Pager

Ryan Williams, a GOP operative who served as a communications adviser to Mitt Romney 2012, said, “It doesn’t sound like something Trump wrote, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is what does he say next?”

Some are itching for a fight.

“It’s a war on cops,” William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said Friday on Fox News. “And the Obama administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war.”

Radio host Alex Jones, who sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories, tweeted, “This is the start of Obama/Soros destabilization race war.” Trump himself appeared on Jones’ program last December, telling him, “Your reputation is amazing.”

Others blamed Obama. “#DallasPoliceShooting has roots in first of anti-white/cop events illuminated by Obama. ... Officer Crowley. There were others,” wrote Rep. Steve King, an influential Iowa conservative Republican, on Twitter.

Later on Friday, Clinton is scheduled to speak to a convention of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, the same city where eight years and four months ago, then-Sen. Obama delivered his widely praised speech on race and American politics entitled, “A More Perfect Union.”

But the promise of a post-racial America that Obama represented for so many has rarely felt further away.

“This has been a long week for our country,” Speaker Paul Ryan said on the House floor after the Dallas shooting. “It's been a long month for America.”

And, as of Friday, there are exactly four long months left until the election.

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