Playing The Race Card

by Patrick Liew on November 14, 2016

After the presidential election in 2012, the Republican Party realised, amongst other lessons, that they need to reach out to non-whites and immigrants to survive in the political arena.

During this election campaign, Trump took a different turn.

He had a hunch that a substantial number of voters did not want to be a part of what the Economist termed as the “rainbow coalition” – and he was right.

Throughout his campaign, he infused his pitches with white nationalist sentiments.

He played on racist and xenophobic feelings to his political advantage.

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives called Trump “a textbook case of racism” after Trump demeaned Gonzalo Curiel, a Mexican-American U.S. District Judge.

Preliminary results of the US presidential election and exit polls indicated there were racial undertones and even racial resentments throughout the campaign.

These undertones could have contributed to the unprecedented and unforeseen outcomes.

Trump won by an unexpected margin because he had relatively strong support from white Americans.

According to results of Edison Research’s national election poll, 54 percent of college-educated white men voted for him.

Surprisingly, 45 percent of college-educated white women also supported him despite his alleged sexual predatory behaviour and misogynistic statements, and disregard for facts.

Trump also won the votes of an unexpected number of whites without a college degree. They made up about a third of the voters.

The votes from white working-class voters turned the table on Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Trump made many racist statements that could have subjected him to criminal prosecutions in many countries, including Singapore.

Trump’s victory opened up old racial wounds and new fault lines. It has caused deep divisions in his country.

The U.S. has celebrated 240 years of independence and is supposedly more developed than us.

It’s a country that has promoted freedom of speech and pledged to be “one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Yet, after the presidential election, we have witnessed violent protests, hate speeches, and fightings on the streets.

Can Trump, to use the words in his victory speech, “…bind the wounds of division,” and help the U.S. “come together as one people”?

Will there be scars or remnants of scars that may flare up in the future?

The lesson for us is that whatever happened in the U.S. can also happen in Singapore.

Race is a visceral part of your being. You may not even be conscious of the workings of a biased mind.

Our country’s level of racial and religious tolerance or harmony is like glass.

Once, it’s broken, it may be hard to put it back together again or return it back to the original condition.

Don’t even try.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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