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US protests to bolster Democrats, far left but won’t improve election chances — expert

A number of states have seen several days of upheaval following the death of Afro-American George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Protests in San Francisco following the death of George Floyd  AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Protests in San Francisco following the death of George Floyd
© AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

NEW YORK, June 1. /TASS/. The widespread demonstrations and unrest that have mushroomed across the United States for the past few days will enable the far-left wing of the Democratic Party to gain a firmer foothold, but the uproar will unlikely improve Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s chances in the November presidential election, Political Science and International Relations Professor Andrei Korobkov, of the Middle Tennessee State University told TASS in an interview on Sunday.

A number of states have seen several days of upheaval following the death of George Floyd, an African-American, in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In many cities, the demonstrations descended into mass rioting, looting and vandalism, with dozens of police injured and hundreds of demonstrators detained.

"All this will reinforce far-left groups inside the Democratic Party and the left wing of the political spectrum in general," Korobkov said. These political forces, he stressed, have used the protests from the outset for attacks against the Trump administration. In his opinion, the Democrats are particularly upset that the novel coronavirus pandemic in the US has failed to bring about the political effect they had hoped for. "There has been no catastrophic slump in Trump’s popularity rating," Korobkov noted.

At the same time, he stressed, the unrest and protests, while strengthening the Democrats’ left wing, will harm the party’s positions in the long term. "This is so because the party’s center always feels scared when outbreaks of violence occur and begin to pose a real threat to it," Korobkov said. This means that in the November elections Biden will look weaker, and Trump somewhat stronger.

Causes behind the uproar

The analyst sees three chief factors that triggered these massive demonstrations. "Soaring tensions in society over the quarantine and lockdown are one," he said. "The restrictions have lasted for two months now. Many people have lost their jobs. Number two, there is the objective position of African Americans, which from time to time results in flare-ups, when incidents like the one with George Floyd happen," Korobkov pointed out. In Minneapolis, he stressed, the police use brute force against African Americans far more often than they do against whites. “Tremendous inequality exists, which regularly results in such social eruptions," he noted.

And the third factor, Korobkov stressed, is "the situation in the country that is systematically created by the elite media." He explained he was referring to the fomenting of hatred, which naturally exacerbates social polarization: "Politicization in society is comprehensive."

Korobkov stressed that at a certain point the ultra-left wing of the Democratic Party tried to use the incident for political aims, but now the unrest has swept many large cities and the "situation is going out of control."

Among the leading representatives of the Democrats’ left wing Korobkov mentioned two members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress: Ilhan Omar (of Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (of New York). "When they hamstrung Bernie Sanders [Senator from Vermont] during the primaries, the Democratic leaders attained a Pyrrhic victory, thus sending a clear message to the left-wingers they should give up hope for seeing their candidate emerge the winner. This made the left take more radical steps, targeted against the monopoly of the party’s bureaucracy," Korobkov said.

In his opinion mass protests and unrest will last in the United States at least till November. "I believe that certain forces will try to stage something like this again before the November elections. More explosions are to follow during the summer and in the fall," he said. "Some incident that can be used as a pretext for launching such a campaign may occur any moment."

Lessons of history

Korobkov recalled that similar situations had occurred in the United States more than once. "The most well-remembered period was in 1965-1968. The Democratic Party was split in 1968 and the influence of left-wing groups inside it was very great. There were several factors for this, such as the Vietnam war and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and civil rights movement activist Martin Luther King.

In those years demonstrations and mass rioting were frequent, too.

"All that ended with the nomination of a compromise presidential candidate [from the Democratic Party] — Hubert Humphrey — and the Democrats’ crushing defeat in the election," Korobkov said. "Richard Nixon won the election and became president."

"I believe that in this sense history tends to repeat itself. The left-wing radicals’ growing strength will scare the centrists, which will eventually improve Trump’s prospects in November," Korobkov said.

The Democratic Party’s National Convention, where Biden is expected to be nominated presidential candidate, has been postponed till August 17-20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to The New York Times’ estimates, Biden has already secured the support of 1,566 delegates. To be nominated presidential candidate in the first round of voting the contender is to win the votes of 1,991 delegates.

Trump has already obtained enough votes of the Republican National Convention delegates to be nominated for the presidency. The Republican National Convention will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 24-27. The United States 59th presidential election is due on November 3.