democraciaAbierta

New congresswomen give hope in confronting a deeply racist US president

Despite the president appearing to be untouchable, a new wave of congresswomen are challenging his racist policies and beliefs with more strength than ever, demonstrating that a president who isn’t capable of protecting all citizens is simply not worthy of office. Español

DemocraciaAbierta
18 July 2019
AOC during an interview at the SXSW festival. Wikimedia Commons.

Tensions in the US regarding the border with Mexico and issues relating to migration are at an all time high. The raids without warrants carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this weekend and the openly racist comments of president Trump directed as much towards congresswomen as the victims of the raids have shook a nation that is more divided than ever.

With a 41% approval rating, Trump’s popularity remains stable and has changed very little throughout his presidency. However, according to Gallup, this is the lowest approval rating a president has ever had since they began measuring ratings in 1955. In a survey from June this year, respondents were asked if they approved or dissaproved of the management of Trump’s government, and the response only emphasises the current polarised state of the nation: 41% answered they approved and 54% answered they did not.

When Donald Trump shows his true racist colours however, it would appear that support among his followers from the Republican Party increases. In the days following his declarations telling congresswomen like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar to go back to where they came from, a Reutes/Ipsos poll showed that his popularity rose 5% among republican voters.

Despite the president appearing to be untouchable, a new wave of congresswomen are challenging his racist policies and beliefs with more strength than ever, demonstrating that a president who isn’t capable of protecting all citizens is simply not worthy of office. That’s why we present everything you need to know about the threat of a racist in the White House and the congresswoman fighting against him.

The congresswoman saying no to Trump

The so called ‘squad’, the group of new politicians, all women and from diverse ethnic backgrounds, won their seats in the mid-term elections last year that many dubbed as a protest vote against the racist and sexist behaviour of the current president.

These diverse politicians are increasingly popular among young people and supporters of the Democratic Party, although their presence is particularly unsettling for the current president.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first muslim women to ever gain political respresentation in the US Congress, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (or AOC as she’s referred to on social media) of the district of Queens and the Bronx, is the youngest congresswoman of all history. Ayanna Presley, the last member of the ‘squad’, is the first afro woman to be elected in the district of Massachusetts, and like AOC, she managed to unseat an established democrat to gain her seat.

These diverse politicians are increasingly popular among young people and supporters of the Democratic Party, although their presence is particularly unsettling for the current president. They’ve been the target of many racist slurs by the president, such as the aforementioned comments, or when Trump falsely declared that Omar was an Al-Qaeda sympathiser.

But these congresswomen are ready to fight, and since they took up their seats in Washington DC last year, they’ve shown that they have the bravery to call out Trump like few other politicians.

AOC uses her platform on social media and in congress to draw attention to the incompetence of the president, and has recently been vocal on Twitter, denouncing the sexual misconduct of Trump and his border policies.

Tlaib also denounced the inhumane conditions on the border with Mexico, and that racist comments made by Trump are a mere distraction game from the real issues caused by the president’s actions Now, the members of the ‘sqaud’ are demanding Trump be investigated with impeachment as a potential outcome, showing that they’re not afraid to take on the racist in the White House.

The border and cruelty

Since Trump began his presidency in 2016, the way in which he has dealt with what he referred to as the ‘border crisis’ has been characterised by disproportionate cruelty. He won the elections on the promise of building a border wall between Mexico and the US, a wall that would prevent any kind of entry of migrants into the country.

They saw children sleeping on the concrete without matresses or sheets, they saw malnourished children that hadn’t been fed for a significant period of time, and children with illnesses that hadn’t been treated.

Although the plans to build the wall have stalled for reasons relating to the budget and internal disagrements that led to the longest government shut-down in US history, Trump has yet to give up implementing his horrific and dehumanising border policy.

Separations of families at the border and the transfer of children to separate detention centres has unravelled a humanitarian crisis that could take decades to resolve. A group of lawyers that recently visited a detention centre for children in Clint, Texas, denounced the horrifying conditions they found there. They saw children sleeping on the concrete without matresses or sheets, they saw malnourished children that hadn’t been fed for a significant period of time, and children with illnesses that hadn’t been treated.

It’s estimated that there are around 1000 children currently held in detention centres along the US border, and all are at risk of being exposed to such dehumanising conditions. AOC declared in a recent speech that Trump’s recent comments telling her to go back to where she came from are hardly surprising given the violations of international human rights law occuring on the border due to his policies, and the ICE raids without warrants that have sent panic across the country.

There is hardly room for any doubt that we’re currently dealing with a racist in the White House, and whether he wins the coming presidential elections or not, the congresswomen of the ‘squad’ may well be the only politicians truly capable of challenging institutionalised racism and xenophobia in the coming months and years.

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