How Trump and Cruz cause neighbors to eye each other warily (COMMENTARY)


Source: RNS

HOUSTON (RNS) For the last 12 years I have worked as an election clerk in my precinct, which has about 4,300 registered voters. I greet voters, confirm their registration status and send them to the booth.

My precinct is about 4 square miles in size, so the voters are my neighbors. I don’t know all of them and I’m not privy to their voting preferences. My southeast Houston neighborhood, like most of Texas, is majority Republican and one of our U.S. senators, Ted Cruz, won the state’s March GOP primary. In Texas, party registration is not required, so voters are free to vote in either party’s primary.

The Republican and Democratic polls are set up on opposite sides of the gym in a local elementary school. On Super Tuesday, I worked the Democratic polls, and given the Republican majority, I spent a fair amount of time idle, except for watching the long lines of people waiting to vote on the Republican ballot.

Observing my neighbors, I wondered who among them had the heart and mind of a Trump supporter and what they thought of me. We read a lot about the angry blue-collar voters who support Trump; my part of Houston has a diverse population, racially and ethnically.

Maybe in my precinct I would find an answer to the question: What drives someone to support Trump other than anger over “political correctness”

Knowing the answer is critical in a presidential primary marred by explicit suspicion of Muslims.

After Cruz’s reaction to the attacks in Brussels this week, I’ve been wondering who among my neighbors would support his call “to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

Parse that sentence to find its meaning.

What is a “Muslim neighborhood”? How many Muslims must live in a designated area to qualify it as Muslim?

Does “patrol” mean unmarked police cars driving slowly past mosques? Does “secure” mean to delineate boundaries in which Muslims can live or work or shop or worship?

The meaning of “before they become radicalized” is clear. It implies that all American Muslims will eventually commit or support acts of terror.

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