The 'Eye for an Eye' Election
The ace of anger affirmation has become the jack of clubs.
Thanks Obama. The insanity of the 2016 election boils down to that phrase. Want to know why the GOP fielded some of the most impressive and accomplished presidential candidates in memory? Barack Obama. Want to know why that field was decimated by Donald Trump, as he became deeply popular with many Americans? Barack Obama. Want to know why political rallies now feature threats and violence? Barack Obama.
As Mark Alexander wrote last month, “Seven years of Obama’s repressive regime has fomented despair, delusion and division among the ranks of Republican voters — so much so that some are willing to take leave of their senses and join a cultish movement with a self-promoting charlatan as its head. History is replete with examples of such movements, and the tragic result — the suppression of Liberty.”
The news that a Trump rally was canceled Friday night because of clashes between his supporters and protesters is a microcosm of the angst in the political arena. Trump’s rise is, again, due in part to the Left’s fascistic efforts to silence dissent, be it on climate change, same-sex marriage, or proposed gun confiscation, just to name a few. All of that is part and parcel with vast expanse of government and abuse of power.
It’s to Trump’s credit that he canceled the Chicago rally. The leftist protesters clearly came ready for a fight, so things likely would have gotten even uglier, and more people would have been hurt. The blame for that lies squarely on the protesters planning their attack.
But it shouldn’t be surprising that Trump’s people are itching to punch someone in the face, too. (Some of them actually have.) Especially when Trump is saying things of protesters like this in Las Vegas: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Or what he said in Missouri: “There used to be consequences to protesting. There are none anymore.” Or there’s this gem from an Iowa event: “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ‘em, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”
People believe everything else he says. Why not the promise to back them up for punching a leftist’s lights out? Really, is it any wonder that Trump’s ace of anger affirmation would be followed at rallies by the jack of clubs?
Back to Obama, who has an authoritarian streak. Given his heated and petulant rhetoric over the years, he clearly views his opponents as evil and deserving of jail, exile or some other form of punishment. Often, the reaction to such authoritarianism is violence.
So it’s interesting that Trump is also an authoritarian. He advocates everything from loosening libel laws to the detriment of the First Amendment to violence to suppress dissent — in-kind retribution for the Left’s tactics. His campaign manager allegedly manhandled a reporter for a friendly publication. But the overarching point is that Trump says he can fix all of the ills of the Obama era by making “better deals” — i.e., using his great authoritarian power to make government great again.
People who put their faith in big government — whether Obama’s or Trump’s version — are probably more likely to resort to violence and other tactics of suppression.
All of this said, Americans have a history of rowdy political displays, so this recent escalation isn’t entirely new. Indeed, it’s a bit much for Friday’s news to have commentators looking for the nearest fainting couch. The original Boston Tea Party featured the destruction of private property. And the War for Independence began as a reaction to the British violently suppressing dissent — the colonists took up arms to stop them. This is a nation that split into two and fought a war over political disagreements. The 1968 election brought riots and two assassinations.
What is new, however, is a leading presidential candidate essentially turning an “eye for an eye” into a major plank of his platform. Will that fix what ails our nation?