The Great White Hope: Threat and Racial Resilience in the Age of Trump

Christopher Sebastian Parker and Matt A. Barreto. "The Great White Hope: Threat and Racial Resilience in the Age of Trump." Democratic Resilience. Can the United States Withstand Rising Polarization?, Edited by Lieberman, Robert C., Mettler, Suzanne and Roberts, Kenneth M. 

Introduction

Political polarization, according to the influential text, How Democracies Die (HDD), is at the root of the decline of American democracy. In fact, we are more polarized now, as Trump exits the Oval Office, than the country’s been in the last seventy-five years. Still, the current round of polarization began in earnest on Obama’s watch. Together, Trump and Obama own four of the top five years on record as the most polarizing since 1945. Given the evidence that race has driven partisanship more now than any other time in recent history, it seems to us that racism goes a long way toward explaining the acceleration of polarization in recent years. Even when it comes to the celebrated affective approach to polarization, recent research illustrates that race, more than any other factor, best explains interparty antipathy.

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