For some, Donald Trump is the larger-than-life contestant of the ultimate reality show, the one candidate they really want to vote into the big house. Others call him an unhinged fascist, a dangerous demagogue and, in light of his calls for bans on the immigration of Muslims and the curtailing of their civil liberties, a Hitler in the making. J.K. Rowling has also chimed in saying that Trump was “worse than Voldemort”, the fictional dark wizard of her best-selling Harry Potter series. Perhaps more damningly, one person even said that Trump was as if the “internet comments section came to life and ran for president”.
But the one title that Trump truly deserves is that of ‘Great Unifier’. After all, just about every time he opens his mouth he ends up uniting people against him. Take the Latinos, an increasingly important voting demographic in the US. According to the Centre for American Progress, they accounted for 8.4 per cent of the electorate in the 2012 polls, which was an increase of 15 per cent from 2008. With about 800,000 Latinos turning 18 (and thus becoming eligible to vote) every year, Latinos will likely account for 13 per cent of all eligible voters in 2016.
The problem is that when compared to white or African-American voters, the Latin turnout isn’t very impressive; while 11.2 million Latinos did vote in 2012, 12.1 million Latinos who were eligible to vote did not register. That means that while 64 per cent of eligible white voters and 66 per cent of African Americans cast their ballots, only 48 per cent of Latinos did so.
Thanks to Trump, that&’s now changing. In June this year, Trump said of Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Later, he refused to retract those comments and even defended them. One result of this is that Latin voters are now registering in greater numbers thanks to appeals from the community and Latin celebrities like Shakira and Ricky Martin. In one popular campaign commercial, a Latin mother implores her daughter to vote in order to “shut Trump&’s big mouth”.
That&’s bad news for the Republicans because according to some estimates a successful Republican candidate will need 40 per cent of the Latin vote in order to win. The Latin vote looks to be overwhelmingly in favour of Hillary Clinton. That&’s unsurprising considering that immigration is the number one issue for Latino voters.
Less significant in terms of voting strength, the traditionally fractious US Muslim community is also getting organised thanks to Trump&’s repeated assaults. The Pew Research Centre puts the American Muslim population at around 2.75 million, but their votes can be significant in swing states like Florida and Virginia. While most Muslim organisations in the US are non-profits who do not engage in electoral politics, many groups like the Council on American-Islamic relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the American Muslim Alliance are actively registering Muslim-American voters. Given that Muslim voters generally favour the Democrats, more Muslim voters means bad news for the Republican party.
There&’s another group that Trump has seemingly united, though this time in his favour. These are the so-called white nationalists, or neo-Nazis if you prefer.
“The first Reich was the Holy Roman Empire/ The Second Reich was the German Empire/ The Third Reich was Nazi Germany/ The Fourth Reich will be Anglo-Saxon America”: thus begins a post on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, titled “Donald Trump is just the opening act. Yes, we will live to see a Fourth Reich”. The debate it engendered is lively to say the least, running to 47 pages. While some of the responders are sceptical of Trump because of what they call his Jewish links, the consensus is that he is the closest they’re going to get to one of their own in the White House.
Stormfront isn’t the only forum where such opinions are expressed. The daily Stormer, a leading white nationalist online publication recently gave Trump its endorsement with the headline “Glorious leader calls for ban on all Muslims”.
Shouts of ‘White Power,’ and ‘Sieg Heil’ have been heard at Trump rallies and recently, when a black protester was roughed up by the crowd at a Trump rally (after Trump called on the crowd to ‘throw him out’) people in the crowd called for the man to be shot and set on fire. As one can imagine, this is also likely to have a wonderfully unifying effect on the black vote.
The one group that still doesn’t seem to be sure what to make of Trump is the Republican party itself. Gradually drifting towards the lunatic fringe as it has been for years now, one may have imagined that Trump&’s over-the-top rhetoric may have prompted some much overdue soul-searching in the party. But it really hasn’t, and Trump&’s ability to galvanise opposition means that the GOP is getting ever closer to its resting place in the elephant&’s graveyard.