In 1968, demagogue Dixiecrat George Wallace ran on a Presidential platform that was incredibly divisive, as it appealed to the racist attitudes of voters throughout the south. In those protests, he frequently encouraged violence at rallies towards all dissenters. George Wallace would lose the nomination badly. Four years later, an assassin’s bullet permanently robbed him of his legs, thus ending his ultimate political ambition.
Now, 48 years later, demagogue Republican Donald Trump runs on an equally divisive platform that appeals to a largely White working class demographic and their anger towards neoliberal economic policies as well as their hatred towards immigrants, Muslims, and others alike. He’s equated Mexicans to killers and rapists, proposed unconstitutional surveillance of American Muslims, and suggested barring all immigrants from the Middle East.
Trump’s rallies have not been any better, as they contained instances of violence towards dissenters, such as a vet assaulting a woman last week and a supporter sucker punching a man earlier this week. Trump himself both explicitly and implicitly encourages violence at his rallies, by promising to pay for the legal fees against “tomato throwers” and even saying how he would personally like to punch a protester in the face. The frenzy of his crowds is as if he were cutting a WWE-style promo against the villain(s) of his choosing. His impoliteness, his tirades against “politically correctness,” and his insistence on “Making America Great Again,” are hallmarks of his rallies.
Late last week, thousands of protesters gathered around St. Louis, Missouri and interrupted his speech, demonstrating on behalf of the man who was assaulted at the North Carolina rally. Hours later, another diverse coalition of millennials succeeded in shutting down Trump’s rally on the campus of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Scenes of violence entered the homes via millions of television sets with people screaming and throwing punches at each other. It harkens back to the Democratic Convention of ‘68 when the Chicago P.D. brutalized protesters. However, now various political commentators across the spectrum will debate on the significance of Chicago’s rally and what it means to Trump and the GOP.
For Trump and the GOP, the answer is rather simple: the chickens have come home to roost.
Photo Credit: AP Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast
Just like Gov. Wallace in Detroit all those years ago, Trump’s divisive rhetoric, the very thing that has skyrocketed him as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, has postponed a platform for him to bloviate upon. After all, it would have been naive to expect Trump spew the double-edged sword of hateful rhetoric and neo-fascist policies without a backlash of sorts from the very people he’s targeted.As such, in a democratic society, where the 1st Amendment stands, it is inevitable and necessary for people to use whatever political power they have to confront people with power. The first amendment, as many pundits have correctly pointed to repeatedly last fall, does not and should not end on a college campus. St. Louis and Chicago were no different other than Trump’s ACME dynamite of rhetoric finally exploded right in his face as Generation Y finally fought back meaningfully.
It’s unknown exactly how last Friday’s events will hurt or help Trump. Given his substantial lead over Cruz and Rubio, he will likely remain the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. However, millions of Americans just witnessed two rallies devolve into chaos, thus further exposing Trump for what he truly is: divisive demagogic charlatan with an ego more inflated than either Trump Tower or the wall he proposes to build. This has not happened at any other nominee’s rallies on either side of the aisle. Because of the mostly millennial populace who protested at both rallies, last Friday could have very well cost Trump and the GOP the general election, if those same groups actually turn out to vote.
The GOP created this Frankenstein’s Monster with their vacuous levels of hyper-partisan politics under the Obama Administration. They scoffed at compromise at every turn, shut down the government in 2013, and frequently demonized marginalized communities (i.e., immigrants, poor people, people of color) as “takers,” especially during the 2012 election. Moreover, they failed to properly condemn Trump’s racist birther madness from several years prior, which only further fueled the flames of the Tea Party. Now, even as prominent Republicans condemn him (including the ones he supported in the past), Trump and his flock are threatening to burn the very establishment that birthed him.
Despite his insistence of being a “uniter” and his employment of empty populist rhetoric, Trump has proven yet again last week that he is indeed too polarizing to be an effective leader of a democracy. He has yet to issue any statements or speeches relaying the necessity for civility because so far he’s been anything but.
This is a man, and a party, without a plan or a course of action. He’s an emperor with no clothes and perhaps, no throne to sit upon.
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