How race politics burns out

The more recent disorders also are unlikely to spark much long-term inner-city investment. Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot worries about large retailers such as Walgreen’s and Whole Foods not rebuilding their looted stores, saying it will take a “herculean effort” to keep them in the city.

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The long-term political ramifications may also be less sanguine than evident today. To be sure, most Americans (correctly) want to see more police reform. As in the case of the 1960s civil rights movement, an appeal to basic decency was strongly supported by most Americans. But as activists turned more violent, openly anti-American and separatist, public support tends to recede. This helped secure victories for right-wing candidates like Ronald Reagan, elected the year after the 1965 Watts riots and, three years later, contributed to Richard Nixon winning the Presidency.

Today the violent turn of the post-Floyd protests could also spark growing reaction among Americans, perhaps the one thing that can rescue the slipping Trump prospects. Despite the justified concern about police abuse, most Americans, including African-Americans and by a wide margin Latinos, for example, overwhelmingly oppose defunding of law enforcement. Support overall for this position barely reaches 25 percent.

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