November 7, 2016 12:10 pm
Updated: November 8, 2016 5:12 pm

US Presidential Election 2016: How will America heal from the nasty, violent race for president?

WATCH ABOVE: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both in New York City for election night

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The long presidential election race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been bitterly divisive, marred by violence. Fear has played a key role for both party candidates.

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While the final days of the political battle have been enveloped by allegations of sexual assault against Trump and questions about emails involving Clinton, the 2016 road to the White House has been marked by a level of violence not seen in the United States in decades.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump continue to campaign as presidential race gets tighter

Kashiya Nwanguma, an African-American student at the University of Louisville, attended a Trump rally in Louisville, Ken., in March and witnessed firsthand the often-violent clashes that occur.

The 21-year-old student said she went to protest the GOP nominee’s negative comments and “specifically his hateful comments towards Muslims.”

Nwanguma was standing at the back of the rally when she made her way to the front. She got about 10 rows back before she held up her sign — a picture of Donald Trump’s head photo-shopped onto the body of a pig.

WATCH: Kashiya Nwanguma is shoved by protesters at Trump rally (March 1)

“That’s pretty much where the video picks up, where you see me getting assaulted and pushed and kind of ejected by the crowd,” Nwanguma told Global News in a telephone interview. “I would never think to assault someone because they have beliefs that are different than mine.”

Video of the incident was widely reported and shows the young student being shoved and yelled at by several white men. She also said the crowd yelled racial slurs as she was forcibly removed.

“I don’t like to watch [the videos],” she said. “At one point I had to re-watch it and I was always focused on myself and being pushed around and thrown around in the video. [When] I looked at other people’s faces and then I realized how scary and unsafe it was.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump warns of ‘constitutional crisis’ if Hillary Clinton is elected president

Nwanguma said that for her, the election has revealed a simmering racial divide in the U.S.

“A lot of people’s eyes have opened up to that, you know, the fact that the U.S. is not a post-racial society,” she said. “We live in a white supremacist society here in America in my opinion and I think for a while that was brushed under the rug.”

READ MORE: Why some voters will never abandon Donald Trump

Violence at rallies, particularly at those organized by the Trump campaign, have been a common theme with dozens of arrests and videos of supporters and protesters attacking each other.

And with the Republican candidate refusing to say whether he’ll accept the outcome of Tuesday’s election, fears of more violence have popped up across the U.S. and left many questioning what will happen to political discourse in America after Nov. 8.

WATCH: Video show man being punched at Donald Trump rally

University of Toronto philosopher Mark Kingwell has been following the presidential race closely and says the “nastiness” of the campaign could lower the standards for future elections and political discussion.

“If someone perceives a potential advantage in being nasty then that tends to raise the incentives for other people to respond with even greater degrees of nastiness,” said Kingwell.  “Unfortunately we might expect to see more of this in the future.”

What will happen to the GOP?

Trump’s campaign has been accused of racism, sexism, Islamophobia and xenophobia by a wide array of civil rights groups, activists, political opponents and even fellow Republicans. Clinton even waded into the muck when she labelled her opponent’s supporters as “deplorables” – a comment she later apologized for.

“Trump has set himself up as a kind of licence-giver to people in extreme political or ideological positions. He gives them permission to hold the views and maybe even in his dog whistle tactics, gives them permission to act on the views,” said Kingwell. “He says things like ‘you all know what I mean’ which is really just code for the people who are getting the message that their views —however extreme — are welcome.”

WATCH: Protesters and supporters clash at Donald Trump campaign rallies

While many Republicans stood by his comments on Mexican immigrants, his ban on Muslims from entering the U.S., criticism of Vietnam veteran John McCain for being captured and attacks against a gold-star family, it was an October surprise that sparked members of his own party to turn against him.

On Oct. 7, an audio-recording emerged of Trump making obscene comments about women in 2005. While he dismissed them as “locker-room talk,” many high-ranking members of the GOP publicly denounced the Manhattan billionaire.

WATCH: Sexual assault allegations facing Donald Trump

Kingwell says that despite the outcome of Tuesday’s election the Republican party has been fractured and will have to figure out a new way forward.

“There will need to be some serious navel gazing and rebuilding going on there.”

An election ‘rigged’

One of Trump’s favourite campaign targets has been the U.S. electoral system itself, which he has described as “rigged” in interviews and at rallies, and refused to say whether he would accept the election results on Tuesday if he loses — upending a basic pillar of American democracy.

The Republican candidate’s accusations have resonated with supporters and rumblings of a “revolution” and possible violence have echoed among his followers.

READ MORE: Donald Trump supporters agree election is ‘rigged’; some calling for revolution

If Clinton does become the first female president in U.S. history, there are reports of armed militias preparing for a “stolen election.”

“What we need to remember is that compared to five or 10 years ago this is drastically worse. But even though the levels of discursive civility were higher back in the 60s and even the 70s much worse things happened,” he said. “Political assassinations actually were attempted and successful in some cases. We haven’t seen that in American politics or in European politics for some time.”

However, Nwanguma says despite the negative tone of this election, she hopes it’s opened up an important dialogue on race and politics.

“Tensions are always decently high around election time,” she said. “There are some things that have gone on, some doors that we’ve opened that we can’t close. Hopefully you know things get better. I’m an optimist.”

 

 

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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