'Trump a result of moderates disappearing in US parties'

'Trump a result of moderates disappearing in US parties'

“The polarisation of America is not new but the 2016 election allowed us to see the decades-long phenomena in a crystal clear way,” said University of Chicago distinguished professor John Mark Hansen.

Hansen, one of the leading scholars of American politics, was speaking at the second edition of Deccan Herald’s Spotlight on ‘America in Red and Blue: The polarisation of American Politics’.

Tracing the trajectory of the American divide with the help of charts, Hansen showed the gradual disappearance of moderates in Republican and Democratic parties between 1976 and 2008.

“Each party had a fair share of liberal, moderate and conservative politicians even during the administration of Richard Nixon. The ideological divide became more and more consolidated in the last 10 years,” he added.

Award winning journalist and writer Sugata Srinivasaraju, who shared the stage, asked Hansen whether the recent attacks on persons of Indian origin would change the mind of Indian Americans who supported Donald Trump’s candidature.

Hansen noted that Indian Americans were part of the immigrant community that has been the mainstay of Democrats for decades and only a few of them supported Trump. “Only a few supported Trump. More importantly, a racist white American doesn’t differentiate the brown-skinned persons according to their religion or country,” he added.

Srinivasaraju said the ‘us vs them’ binary opposition has played a major role in the election and was influencing the behaviour of Americans even at present. “Trump has antagonised the press, judiciary and half of the world. The future looks bleak in the face of racial attacks,” he added.

Hansen agreed but noted that racism and partisan politics are correlated. “Slow economic growth, lesser jobs and reduced resources had led to lot of stress. Add to this the elements of immigration, class and income and the polarisation is complete,” he added.

Litterateur Girish Karnad, who was in the audience, said it is troubling to note that US would vote for a person like Donald Trump and asked whether there were any means to stop him.

Hansen said even during his first month in office, considered as ‘honeymoon’ days for a president, Trump has got the lowest rating compared to all the previous presidents. “The only possibility of stopping a president is through impeachment for which we have to see if there is evidence of a big scandal in his Russia connection,” he said, referring to the allegations that Kremlin hacked the Democrats’ computers to help Trump victory.

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