The roles of meritocracy and racism in creating a Trump presidency

Updated 7:00 PM EST, Sun November 13, 2016
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Story highlights

Donald Trump became US President-elect less than a week ago

Since his victory, thousands have protested on America's streets

(CNN) —  

Less than a week after Donald Trump’s ascent to President-elect, Fareed Zakaria examines the divisions that he says helped carry Trump to the door of the White House – and left millions of Americans terrified.

From New York to Los Angeles, thousands of demonstrators have marched in American cities since Trump’s unexpected victory capped an acrimonious campaign.

Groups across the country are angry about policies Trump has promised to enforce concerning immigration, the environment, LGBT rights and other issues.

There have also been reports of racist graffiti and hate crimes post-election.

On the latest episode of GPS, Zakaria says Trump’s victory has highlighted the division between urban versus rural and the winners and losers in America’s meritocracy.

The Republican Party knew how to show respect to the have-nots, Zakaria says. But he says racism also played a part in Trump’s victory.

Right-wing populism

Countries such as France and Germany, where the white majority populations have faced a rise in immigrants, have also seen a strengthening in right-wing populism, he says.

“Perhaps the phenomenon might be better described as a reaction to cultural change, but it often expresses itself simply as hostility to people who are different, and are usually brown and black.”

And Trump connected with his target audience.

“Donald Trump’s political skill was to speak defiantly about both these sensitive issues – elitism and race – in a simple, direct and politically incorrect way that connected with white voters, particularly white men,” Zakaria says.

“But in doing so, he also terrified tens of millions of other Americans.”