Another day, another cycle of Trump saying something we all think is a new low…until he says something even lower the next day. What’d he do this time? Dog-whistled that maybe “Second Amendment people” would be able to do something about a Clinton presidency.*
I’m just going to let Dan Rather handle my outrage today (although the fact that we need someone to point out that this is bad, this isn’t normal is also pretty outrageous, but I’m out of words right now).
From Mr. Rather’s Facebook post [emphasis mine]:
No trying-to-be objective and fair journalist, no citizen who cares about the country and its future can ignore what Donald Trump said today. When he suggested that “The Second Amendment People” can stop Hillary Clinton he crossed a line with dangerous potential. By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics. This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law. If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?
Candidate Trump will undoubtably issue an explanation; some of his surrogates are already engaged in trying to gloss it over, but once the words are out there they cannot be taken back. That is what inciting violence means.
To anyone who still pretends this is a normal election of Republican against Democrat, history is watching. And I suspect its verdict will be harsh. Many have tried to do a side-shuffle and issue statements saying they strongly disagree with his rhetoric but still support the candidate. That is becoming woefully insufficient. The rhetoric is the candidate.
This cannot be treated as just another outrageous moment in the campaign. We will see whether major newscasts explain how grave and unprecedented this is and whether the headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers do it justice. We will soon know whether anyone who has publicly supported Trump explains how they can continue to do.
We are a democratic republic governed by the rule of law. We are an honest, fair and decent people. In trying to come to terms with today’s discouraging development the best I can do is to summon our greatest political poet Abraham Lincoln for perspective:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Lincoln used these stirring words to end his First Inaugural Address. It was the eve of the Civil War and sadly his call for sanity, cohesion and peace was met with horrific violence that almost left our precious Union asunder. We cannot let that happen again.
*For more info about the recent “insurrectionist interpretation” of the Second Amendment and how the founders of the nation really meant it, read this good long piece by my friend Francis. As he put it on Facebook, “The threat of violence as a political tool has always been present in our republic but only recently has it been tied to the constitution. But the suggestion that we have a constitutional right to overturn our government through violence is definitely not what the founders had in mind when they created it.”