Make America hate

Trump’s dark message only sows fear and division

IF IT WASN’T exceedingly clear before last night, Donald Trump doesn’t want to make American strong again. He wants to take it back to a divided past with a contorted vision that may be disastrous for urban America.

As he accepted the Republican nomination for president, Trump sounded like the world’s angriest white man. He dangerously highlighted a growing tension between the police and blacks around recent shootings. He harped on an increase in homicides in cities.

Trump concluded his acceptance speech by saying “I love you!” to his audience.

But his address was mostly laced with acrimony and divisiveness.  Can we really tolerate this apostle of hate?

Things in Massachusetts haven’t reached the fevered pitch witnessed on the national scene with Trump leading the way. But how far are we away from the politics of perpetual vitriol and venom?

Trump highlighted political themes Thursday night in Cleveland that were already in his rhetorical arsenal. He railed harshly against immigrants and pushed for his signature border wall separating the US from Mexico. He made unflattering allusions about Latinos.

More pointedly, Trump again and again touched on urban crime which is a crafty way of talking about blacks in the inner cities across the nation. Trump was clearly speaking to racist elements in the Republican Party who think that crime and blacks are interrelated and that part of the nation’s perceived decline is connected to race.

When he called for the return of “law and order” Trump was obviously making reference to the pre-civil rights era, when blacks and women were relegated to second-class citizenship.

Trump was specifically evoking former President Richard Nixon, who in 1968 signaled to white voters that, under his presidency, the civil rights movement would be reversed. Nixon pledged he would oppose programs like affirmative action and liberal policies aimed at alleviating poverty and suffering in the urban American.

When Trump bellowed “I am your voice” during his hour-long speech, it wasn’t difficult to note that he was speaking directly to his largely white voter constituency. He was speaking for a “silent majority” of whites he feels have been ignored in the era of Obama.

As Trump’s campaign accelerates toward the November election, concern continues to rise about the direction of the country if wins. After decades of social change for civil rights and gender equality, how seriously will Trump’s reckless engagement in presidential politics set our country back?

American presidential politics will not be the same after the current election cycle. Trump has changed the intensity and level of civil of our national civic discourse significant ways.

Let’s hope that his vision and its impact are only temporary.

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

Kevin Peterson is founder of the New Democracy Coalition, which focuses on civic literacy, civic policy and electoral justice. Darnell Williams is president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. They are coauthoring commentary pieces this week and next on the impact urban issues are having on the Republican and Democratic national conventions.