Tuesday, 30 May, 2023

Trump and New York, America's ultimate love-hate relationship

Trump and New York, America's ultimate love-hate relationship

"I can't get a fair trial in New York!" fumed Donald Trump when he learned he was being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, as though he knew his hometown -- where the former US president built his fortune -- would always be hostile to its controversial son.

When Trump was elected to the White House in 2016, his surprise win was received poorly in Manhattan, with protesters chanting "New York hates Trump!"

At the time, The New York Times and the BBC reported on Trump's love for the metropolis that did not love him back, saying the real estate magnate "hates being hated" by the city, the economic and multicultural hub of the country.

Arriving Monday evening at Trump Tower in Manhattan, on the eve of his first court appearance after being indicted in a hush money scheme, the billionaire may have found some reassurance in the handful of supporters gathered outside chanting, "We love Trump!"

But he may have been less happy with the signs of opponents demanding to "Lock him up," an echo of the chants he led at rallies in his first campaign against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

- 'Racist rhetoric' -

For Brian Arbour, a professor of political science at City University of New York, "one of the biggest reasons why Trump in particular engenders so much dislike" here is that "New York is a city of immigrants."

Many residents among the 8.5 million people living in the multicultural mosaic of New York's five boroughs "are immigrants themselves, or whose parents and our grandparents emigrated, so they're very in touch with their immigrant roots," Arbour told AFP.

So much so that Trump's "anti-immigrant policies" during his 2017-2021 presidential term, along with his "harsh and heated" and "racist rhetoric... plays particularly poorly in a city with so many immigrants," said Arbour.

Politically, New York has been a strongly Democratic city for more than a century, Arbour added. Left-wing former mayor Bill de Blasio was replaced in January 2022 by former policeman Eric Adams, who is more to the right, but still from the Democratic Party.

And while Republicans performed better in the city and in the state of New York -- which is much more rural and conservative than the city -- during the mid-term elections last November, that was "predominantly around the issue of crime," Arbour said.

Born in New York on June 14, 1946 and educated at a military school, Trump joined the family real estate firm after studying business, though he touts a self-made narrative.

After World War II, his father, Fred Trump, a descendant of a German immigrant, had already built an empire in New York by constructing buildings in mainly working-class neighborhoods.

Trump took over the reins of the company in the 1970s with a solid financial boost from his father, and later carved out a place for himself in US homes thanks to the reality TV show "The Apprentice," set in Manhattan.

In her 2022 biography "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," New York Times political reporter Maggie Haberman writes that the "dynamics that defined New York City in the 1980s stayed with Trump for decades... He often seemed frozen in time there."

In a review of the book in September, the Times noted, "you can't really understand Donald Trump unless you're familiar with the steamy, histrionic folkways of New York's political and construction tribes."