Donald Trump’s Republican opponents have tried ignoring him under the assumption that he’d flame out under the weight of his own audacious ego. It only made him stronger and more popular.
They have tried attacking him during debates but, unskilled in the art of playground bullying, they fell flat, and were reduced to “I know you are but what am I?” responses when he called them stupid, weak, and small.
One of them, Marco Rubio, finally sank to Trump’s level and insinuated that Trump has a small dick. But Rubio was sparring with the master of puerile politicking and came away looking worse than he went in.
Simply put, the Republicans have shown us a multitude of ways NOT to beat Trump. The truth of the matter is that they simply have not been able to shut Trump up, even for one news cycle.
Then came Chicago.
Trump has spent months and months letting his followers know that he’s totally okay if they beat the shit out of his protesters. As a protester was removed from a Nevada event, Trump told the crowd he’d like to “punch him in the face”. “You know what they used to do to a guy like that in a place like this?” Trump told the slavering crowd. “They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
In Oklahoma, he told his cheering supporters that political correctness has ruined all-American pastime of pounding the crap out of protesters. “In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast,” he said. “But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct.”
This past week in North Carolina, Trump incited violence in his supporters once again, saying, “We had some people, some rough guys like we have right in here. And they started punching back. It was a beautiful thing. I mean, they started punching back.” He once again lamented “the good old days” when good, strong Americans could bloody up a protester without fear of being going to jail.
After all of this, there’s little surprise that Trump rally-goers come ready for battle, waiting even the slightest slight to give them license to start punching hippies. And punching hippies is happening regularly at Trump rallies now. Rakeem Jones was being escorted from a Trump rally in North Carolina when a fist came flying out of the crowd and smashed into his face. Then, instead of going after the perpetrator, 78-year old John McGraw, law enforcement officials tackled the victim, forcing Jones to the ground. His assailant was later charged with assault but in the heat of the moment, the “bad guy” was the one who was punched and Trump’s violent supporter was the “good guy”. Trump later called Jones “a real bad dude”. Meanwhile, McGraw defended his sucker punch saying, “He deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”
In Chicago, protesters and Trump “rough guys” came ready to face off. In a gripping behind-the-scenes look at protest preparations at Politico, Keith O’Brien details the smart planning that went into the coordinated protest that ended up with Trump cancelling the rally. O’Brien also shows just what the protesters faced:
I was just there to watch, but I could feel it myself. The protesters, mostly black and Latino and young, were standing shoulder to shoulder with the people that their protest would upset most. The crowd was white — all of them — sporting “Hillary for Prison” and “Bomb the Hell out of ISIS” pins, wearing camouflage ball caps, hunter orange, and N.R.A. gear, and shouting for their candidate, who was late, but coming, surely coming.
“U-S-A!” they chanted.
And: “Build that Wall!”
And: “We want Trump!”
Their non-violent protest, which took place both inside and outside the UIC Pavilion, was an unmitigated success. They forced Trump to blink. After months of stoking up violent fervor against his detractors, he was finally forced to admit that things had gone too far. Sure, he kept talking. But now he was forced to defend the irrational violence of his racist supporters, putting him on the defensive in a way that is not helping him with average Americans. Calling protesters “thugs” who are inciting violence is pretty hard to square with the optics of a handful of brown protesters surrounded by tens of thousands of white people who look like they would have fit right in with a George Wallace for President crowd or at a Ku Klux Klan rally.
For the first time since he announced his candidacy, protesters forced Trump to shut up for one day.
And that’s something no Republican has yet been able to do.
[CC image credit: Thomas Hawk | Flickr]