Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 250

The violence in American cities reflects the fury of polarisation

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 4 giugno 2020

THE SUMMER heat has its way of energising our political passions. The American and French revolutions both began in earnest with the sweltering June and July air stuck to each soldier’s skin. In 1967, a “long hot summer” of violence erupted throughout the United States as protesters against police brutality and racial injustice clashed with police and the national guard in most big cities. The following summer saw similar protests, and—like today—a hotly contested presidential election. The current unrest in America is similar in many ways to the riots of the 20th century, with young people and minorities expressing grievances over both racial inequality and the relationship with their government. But two recent developments serve both to worsen the tensions between protesters and their opponents and to decrease the chance that the government will find a solution: political polarisation and partisan rage.The turmoil of 1968 is the most obvious parallel to today’s. Then, the Republican Party’s Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were the candidates of “law and order,” pledging to crack down on the violence and extend sentences for rioters. That year’s election was also a major catalyst for the marriage of race and political party in America. Nixon’s and Agnew’s electoral strategies probably helped them capitalise on the anger and anxiety of many white voters. In a new research article about the contest, Omar Wasow, a political scientist at Princeton University, finds that the year’s protests “likely caused a 1.5–7.9% shift among whites toward Republicans and tipped the election”. Since then, characterising protests as racial violence and promising to “crack down” on it has become a linchpin of the Republican Party’s electoral playbook. (by The Economist)

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