WHITE RACISM COULD sweep Donald Trump to victory in the 2024 US presidential election this November.
First, however, he must overcome legal hurdles. Trump’s candidature, under litigation across several states, will have to be ratified by the US Supreme Court. Since Trump weaponised the court 6-3 with conservative appointees in his first term as president, that hurdle will probably be crossed.
Trump’s Democratic rival is 81-year-old incumbent President Joe Biden. Biden’s age and declining cognitive abilities have seen him losing ground in opinion polls. If the presidential election were held today, Trump would win. Underlying this is the rise of white racism across Middle America. At the heart of white racism is the debate over DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).
Harvard University’s first Black president, Claudine Gay, was forced to resign in January 2024 after a vicious campaign against her. Gay’s response at a Congressional hearing on anti-Semitism at Harvard triggered by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza was cited as the principal reason for forcing her out. Allegations of plagiarism in her doctoral thesis followed.
But the real reason for her ouster was Harvard’s embrace of diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI is increasingly under attack by white Americans. They say it lowers educational standards by giving preference to Black students despite many lacking academic credentials.
This is, in essence, an attack on affirmative action that seeks to compensate Black Americans for the racial abuse they have historically suffered. Over 42 million African Americans, most of them descendants of African slaves shipped to North America by European colonists, remain the poorest, most distressed ethnic community in the US.
Trump has tapped into white resentment against efforts by Ivy League universities in the US to redress injustices against Blacks. DEI is the first citadel to come under concerted attack. The billionaire founder of hedge fund Pershing Square, Bill Ackman, led the campaign to oust Gay. He has found support in a growing constituency of powerful white men who despise DEI.
The rise of the racist right in America has forced Indian-origin Republican challenger to Trump, Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, to adopt a populist position. The New York Times reported that in a Fox News interview, “Haley asserted that legalised slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans and racial segregation through Jim Crow laws had never made America a racist county. It echoed an earlier gaffe she had made when she neglected to mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War: She later apologised, saying ‘I should have said slavery right off the bat’.”
White Americans have woken up late to the fact that by 2050 whites will be a minority in the US for the first time since the 1600s. By 2050, their population is estimated to fall to less than 50 per cent for the first time in over 400 years
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Vivek Ramaswamy, the other prominent Indian-origin presidential aspirant who bowed out of the race following a dismal showing in the Iowa Republican caucus, has also aligned himself with Trump’s dog-whistle racism.
Trump himself isn’t really a racist. As a businessman, he knows money has no colour, except green. But being a shrewd businessman, he knows that Middle America has become a racially polarised country. It is Trump’s pathway to a second-term presidency.
Matthew Baum, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School, put it bluntly in an interview with The Economic Times on January 19, 2024: “Once an unquestioned majority, many Americans now feel insecure about non-Whites seeking more power—this boosts Donald Trump.”
White Americans have woken up late to the fact that in less than a generation—by 2050—whites will be a minority in the US for the first time since the 1600s. After English colonists arrived in North America in the late 1500s, the population of Native Americans fell rapidly. Some died of smallpox and other diseases the English brought with them. Many more perished in wars with the invading Europeans.
By the 1700s, the population of Blacks in America had begun to rise as the transatlantic slave trade peaked following the merger of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707 to form a new country, the United Kingdom.
Non-white immigration from the mid-1960s reduced the white majority in the US population to 70 per cent. The 2021 Census placed the population of white Americans at 57 per cent. By 2050, that is estimated to fall to less than 50 per cent for the first time in over 400 years.
The shift in the balance of political power from white to a coloured majority lies at the heart of America’s DEI debate and the rise of racism across America. It could be the ticket to Trump’s second presidency.