US election appears more and more divided along racial lines

In a week’s time, Donald Trump will have been officially named the candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential bid in this fall’s US General Election.

A week later, Hillary Clinton will achieve this same imprimatur from the Democratic Party and so the race for the most important elected position in the Western World, the president of the United States, will be officially on.

Of course the race has been in play between these two for some months now but the respective party nominating conventions, in Cleveland this week and in Pittsburgh in the following week, will make it official.

What is most troubling, as we observe what is going on in the US from the Canadian prospective is that, in the case of the Republican Party, there appears to be very much a racial divide in that party, now led by Mr. Trump, as it has little appeal to Americans of African and Hispanic heritage.

Mr. Trump’s presence has widened a divide that was already there, to some great extent, with these important minorities tending to support the Democratic candidate at presidential election time.

But politics in this US election is more and more breaking down along racial lines; this particularly underscored by the apparent retaliatory police shootings where vigilante individuals have taken it on themselves to kill policemen by way of atonement for police shootings of African Americans.

So here we go, watching the 2016 US presidential election cycle get officially underway with the Republican Party holding its nose and supporting Mr. Trump’s platform of building a wall between Mexico and the US (and somehow requiring the Mexican government to pay for this), and also threatening to not allow people of Muslim faith to enter the US and also, possibly, deporting Muslim people who have already legally immigrated to the US, together with any children they might have who happened to be born in America.

Both Democratic and Republican Party spokespeople have been careful to express guarded concern about the police shootings of African American citizens and have more resolutely decried the retaliations that have left police officers dead and wounded in Dallas and, this past weekend, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We do not know what will happen next as the racial divide appears, sadly, to be once again widening in the US.

But if the Republican Party has little or no support from the main minority groups in America and if Mr. Trump happens to win the presidency in spite of this, this will only serve to drive the racial wedge deeper and render the US Congress an even more partisan environment than it presently is.

As neighbours, good friends and trading partners on the north side of the world’s largest undefended border, Canada and Canadians need to be concerned about where this can lead.

It may very well lead, if Mr. Trump becomes the president and his party accomplishes this based only on the support of middle class white people, to people wishing to move north as they did in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of concerns about the war in Vietnam.

In fact, this is already starting to happen and this writer recently met a young family, with well-educated parents and two young daughters, who are visiting family in Ontario on a six-month long visitor basis while they wait to see what happens in the unprecedented political environment now in play in the US. They vow to make every effort to immigrate if Mr. Trump is elected president and they declare themselves to be Republicans.

It is fair to anticipate many more of these immigrants who may fear or anticipate an atmosphere of chaos in their own country.