Donald Trump facing the American awakening

Demonstration against racism and police violence, in Boston, June 7.
Demonstration against racism and police violence, in Boston, June 7. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP

"World" editorial. Unbearable, the spectacle of the agony of George Floyd, this 46-year-old American black man smothered under the knee of a white policeman on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, did not only trigger destructive riots.

The revolt that sparked this murder filmed live caused in the United States a wave of protest of a new kind against racism and police violence: Blacks, Whites, Latinos, men and women, from center right to left radical, march peacefully and neck and neck, in large cities like New York, Los Angeles or Seattle, but also in a multitude of small cities. It is no longer an outburst in black ghettos like the country has known in the past, nor a strictly militant mobilization, but a timely multiracial backdrop.

With a single voice, Americans of all origins not only denounce racist blunders, but proclaim the obvious too often forgotten: "The life of blacks counts". That whites, who by definition ignore it, overwhelmingly admit the police fear of being black and are outraged by it is new in itself. The spontaneity of this national movement of indignation reinforces its political significance: the processions, organized only via social networks, bring together bearers of signs made by craftsmen and written by them.

On the defensive

This cheerful civic outburst offsets Donald Trump's hateful image of his country. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis' virulent attack on president "Who is trying to divide us", the distances taken, in the name of the Constitution, by the current incumbent, Mark Esper, with the presidential threat to send the army to restore order, reflect a vigor of the democratic debate and a certain isolation of Mr. Trump . Even if it is far too early to predict the effect of the George Floyd affair on a presidential election scheduled in five months, the emotion and the mobilization in progress could modify the equation.

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Certainly, like the Republican Richard Nixon, elected in 1968 after the racial riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Donald Trump can play on his firmness to enforce " Law and order ". Admittedly the young blacks disappointed by Barack Obama will find it difficult to mobilize in favor of his ex-vice-president, Joe Biden, who has just reached the majority of the delegates necessary for his nomination as adversary of Mr. Trump.

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But the latter, who likes to set the agenda so much, is now on the defensive on two grounds – the pandemic and the racial question – which are far from his own and on which its management proves calamitous: 110,000 dead Covid-19 and an inability to even acknowledge the reality of racism in the police. Not to mention the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Democrat Joe Biden, who has just emerged from the confined basement of his house, from where he broadcast his speeches, to campaign in the flesh, to prove that he represents a credible alternative to a president whose every word , every act since the murder of George Floyd, sounds like a terrible call to return from the old American racial civil war.

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