On Thursday, writing for The New York Times, Lisa Lerer outlined the political problem for President Donald Trump as the George Floyd protests advance and the nation lines up behind the cause.
“Make America Great Again,” wrote Lerer. “It’s a promise to return the country to past glory. A time of strength abroad. A time of prosperity at home. A time of ‘so much winning.’ A time that never really existed.”
“Mr. Trump’s message focuses on the economy, but also taps into a vein of white political grievance,” wrote Lerer. “There have been a number of studies showing that’s exactly what happened in the 2016 election. Many white, Christian and male voters, academic research suggests, supported Mr. Trump not because of financial anxiety but because they felt their social status was at risk.”
“Public polling today indicates that the number of voters sympathetic to that view is shrinking — fast,” wrote Lerer. “Public opinion on race and criminal justice issues has been creeping leftward since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month supercharged that shift, as my colleagues at the Upshot detailed on Wednesday.”
“Even within some of the most culturally conservative corners of the country, views are shifting,” wrote Lerer. “This week, NASCAR banned Confederate flags at races. The military is open to renaming its bases named after Confederate leaders. Statues of Confederate solders, slave owners and race-baiting politicians are falling like dominoes. The country is changing; Mr. Trump is not.”
“Though Mr. Trump’s hard-core supporters stand with him, other Republicans are following the country’s lead,” wrote Lerer. “Senator Mitt Romney marched with protesters on Sunday, trying to create a permission structure for Republican voters. Acknowledging that voters want action, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, tapped Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the lone black Republican in his ranks, to lead an effort on how to address police misconduct.”
“In his inauguration address, Mr. Trump described ‘American carnage,’ outlining a doomsday vision of a country ravaged by economic disaster, violence and fear,” concluded Lerer. “For many Americans, that carnage has now arrived, visited upon us by a virus, a recession and social unrest. For others, including many of those protesting, the carnage was always there. If Mr. Trump loses in November, the carnage may be self-inflicted.”
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