The Racial Card in US Politics

The racial card and xenophobia are being actively used in US politics, especially during election campaigns. A case in point is the recent scandal over Donald Trump’s remarks regarding four US Democratic congresswomen of African and Latin American descent, who have been sharply critical of his presidency. Instead of giving a relevant reply, Trump openly said they should “go back” to the countries they came from, although three of the four were born and raised in the United States. The Democrats filed a motion to impeach the president, which has failed. Trump remarked that the House effort to impeach him was the “most ridiculous project” he had ever been involved in.

The scandal has benefited Donald Trump, who has humiliated the Democrats and demonstrated his connection to the racist white Americans who voted for him in 2016.

It is not the first time that Trump has played the racist card in a political battle. He has made quite a few statements about criminal migrants from Mexico, terrorists from the Middle East and outsiders from bankrupt countries. These remarks are directly connected with politics. Trump is likely to make similar statements about the Chinese because he has very many complaints about Beijing’s foreign policy. In fact, the race card policy is aimed more at political and economic goals than racial ones. Trump was elected on account of his opposition to the liberal establishment and his support for a world based on economic nationalism, where America must win at the expense of all other nations. Populism and efforts to please the racist-minded segments of the population are a means of winning more votes in the upcoming presidential race. Nothing personal, just politics as usual.

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Moreover, Trump is not the only politician playing this card. As the liberal globalization with an American face fades away, not only economic but also migration problems are exacerbated. Instead of looking for global and long-term solutions, politicians, American and others, when faced with a tidal wave of problems, suggest “simple” answers that appeal to negative emotions. This also applies to the liberal politicians in the United States and Europe, where liberal governments cannot play the racial card against their national minorities for political reasons but are actively using the specter of foreign threat. The current foreign threats include Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Liberal xenophobia in the United States is aimed at discrediting Trump through the allegations of his collusion with Russia. Since Russia is painted as the biggest threat to US security and interests, the alleged Trump-Russia collusion serves as proof that the US president is acting from Russian rather than American interests. This simplistic “argument” is often backed up with statements about the omnipotent and omnipresent Russian hackers who not only interfered with the US election but also influenced its outcome and brought Donald Trump to power in 2016. The Democrats do not mind that the Mueller investigation found no evidence of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia. They demand that the investigation be continued to prove that Trump is obstructing justice, if not colluding with the Russians. This is why the Democrats forced Robert Mueller to testify about his report on the Donald Trump campaign in a live-streamed hearing. A great many Democrats are still dreaming of humiliating Trump.

The Russian card is being played not only in an attempt to get even with Trump, but also to mend the increasing divide in the Democratic Party. Apart from Bernie Sanders, who is advocating a left-wing agenda, the Democratic Party now has a growing group of lawmakers who have challenged the liberal right-wing establishment on social and economic issues. The left-leaning Democrats, such as the recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29), are often seen as socialists, although they are not so much against capitalism as for strengthening the socioeconomic role of the state. For example, they propose raising taxes so as to cut Americans’ spending on healthcare and education. Their popularity is growing, which is creating more problems for the core of the Democrat establishment surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She opposes Trump’s impeachment on the grounds that this would weaken the party. At the same time, Pelosi is ready to use the Russian card to torpedo Trump’s policy and possibly to rally the Democrats for the upcoming election. The idea is that the alleged Russian threat can make up for the lack of unity among Democrats on socioeconomic questions.

The racial and xenophobic language, which the politicians of the post-American world are rapidly learning, does not yet indicate a return to the blood-and-soil nationalism, which has led to so many wars. A populism based on memory and emotions is an instrument that differs from fundamentalist ethnic nationalism when it comes to consequences. For example, Trump hasn’t built very much of the Mexico border wall, contrary to his election promise. His much-vaunted immigration restrictions have not led to the adoption of draconian laws. This populist racism is designed to strengthen the president’s political and communication ties with the electorate. What Donald Trump really wants is not racial purity but economic prosperity for America and himself.

The time of real racism and xenophobia in politics has not yet arrived. But this is small comfort since the world continues to teeter on the brink of economic and migration crises. A potential aggravation or combination of these crises could mean the replacement of national populist politicians with ethnic nationalist politicians. Moreover, populist politicians could and would likely convert to ethnic nationalism. Trump’s rhetoric and actions have so far been restrained by economic growth and the absence of major wars. No matter what the opponents of the 45th President of the United States say, he has revitalized the national economy and has not yet started a war.

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