There are no protests over racial injustice or police brutality here, and the only fires or violence Wendy Williams encounters are on television and online. Yet the spotty images of unrest in faraway Portland, Ore., and Kenosha, Wis., linger in her mind.
If anything, she’d like President Trump to crack down harder, to follow through on his threats to send more troops to quash the protests. She wishes he didn’t say so many inflammatory things, yet resents those who label him a racist.
“There’s always been racism. There’s always gonna be racism, but it’s not him that’s doing it,” Williams, a white, 53-year-old stay-at-home mom, said outside a Walmart. “It’s the Democrats and the media that are getting it out there and keeping it out there. And if the riots don’t get taken care of, it’s just making it worse.”
Williams said she did not vote in presidential elections before Trump came along in 2016. Now, she is an essential part of his 2020 coalition. She lives in Wilkes-Barre, in blue-collar Luzerne County, one of three Pennsylvania counties that flipped from blue to red in 2016 and helped give Trump the state — and a narrow electoral college victory.
Trump’s racially loaded calls for “law and order” in the face of mostly peaceful protests, and his dire warnings that Democratic nominee Joe Biden will “demolish the suburbs,” have alienated some voters in the actual suburbs, where Black and Latino populations are growing and many educated white women are abandoning the Republican Party.
But Trump’s appeals to the grievances of white supporters — including his recent order to purge the federal government of racial sensitivity training — appear to be resonating with voters in down-at-the-heels industrial cities such as Wilkes-Barre, where his campaign hopes for a surge of white working-class voters.
Trump’s promises to crack down on “chaos” in cities “actually play better with voters that are far away from the unrest,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Poll.
ICYMI: 65% of likely voters say the violent protests are important to their vote in the presidential election this fall, with 41% who say it’s very important.
Among Black voters this number rises to 72%, 2nd highest only to Republicans at 74%.
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) September 16, 2020
Capitalism must be abolished in order for black lives to matter, Alicia Garza, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said at a conference in 2015.
Black Lives Matter has experienced a resurgence of support in 2020 following the May 25 death of George Floyd. Celebrities and large corporations have poured millions of dollars into Black Lives Matter Global Network — BLM’s national arm — and other organizations that support defunding the police.
“It’s not possible for a world to emerge where black lives matter if it’s under capitalism,” Garza said in 2015 at the left-wing convention Left Forum. “And it’s not possible to abolish capitalism without a struggle against national oppression and gender oppression,” she added.