"I think we got here by deliberate means. I don't think this was an accident." - Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow made the case on MSNBC last night, that Donald Trump is deliberately provoking violence as a campaign tactic. She believes he plans to cast himself as the "strong man" who must be elected to quell the unruly mobs. Rachel pointed out that this is a political tactic often seen in other less stable countries, but rarely shows up in American politics.
With the skill of a seasoned prosecutor, Rachel walked her viewers through the entire Trump campaign, beginning with the day Trump threw his hat in the ring with a speech denouncing Latino immigrants as rapists and murderers. She then carefully followed Trump's ever-escalating rhetoric fomenting racial and ethnic reaction, then encouraging confrontation, which culminated last night in the cancellation of his rally in Chicago due to the presence of thousands of protesters.
"This has been a night that may go down in history as one of the darker moments in American major party politics," said Rachel. "Here's the context, here's how I think we got here. And I think we got here by deliberate means. I don't think this was an accident. One of the really important, really intense things that has been going on in our country for the last few years that has mostly been happening outside electoral politics has been a race issue and a justice issue, and a civil rights issue, and a public order issue in cities and suburbs all over the country, where major controversies, and at times public unrest, has broken out in response to police killings of African Americans.
"In the St. Louis area we saw Ferguson Missouri go up like a cauldron there, after the killing of an unarmed teenager named Michael Brown. In Chicago, it was dashcam footage of a 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald being sixteen times by a police officer. In Cleveland, it was first just the story, and then some almost unbelievable footage of Cleveland police rolling up on a 12-year-old boy in a city park and shooting him dead in an encounter that took less than three seconds. That was Tamir Rice who was killed in Cleveland.
"So the St. Louis area. Chicago. Cleveland. Those are not the only three American cities that have proven to be real tinderboxes around issues of race and racism and policing and violence, but those three happen to be the three most recent stops on the itinerary of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, whose rallies have featured racially charged incidents of violence for months now.
"But as Donald Trump's campaign left the deep South and prepared to swing into Chicago tonight and Cleveland tomorrow, we have seen one part of this phenomena is becoming more intense at Donald Trump rallies. There have been instances in the past where he has encouraged, or at least praised the idea of violent action by his supporters, when he's spoken wistfully about how great it would be to beat people up at his rallies, or he has told people he would pay their legal fees if they beat up a protester on his behalf - he has done that in the past. But this sort of bloodlust, right? This half tongue in cheek, mostly serious call for a tougher America where there are more beatings, and where anti-Trump protesters should fear for their lives. As he heads into these tinderbox cities today and tonight, I just want you to watch how that part of candidate Donald Trump's rhetoric has escalated it.
"If you want to see the crescendo here; if you want to see the deliberate act that created what happened tonight in Chicago, well watch where it came from.
"Anyone who tells you there is no connection between the behavior of the mob at these events and the man at the podium leading the mob at these events, has not actually been watching what he has been saying.
Rachel then showcased clips of Trump's public comments in chronological order, beginning with his entreaty to supporters on January 1 to "knock the crap out of" anyone they see getting ready to throw a tomato, highlighting his statements about how he wishes he could punch protesters in the face and promising to pay the legal bills of any supporter arrested for attacking a protester. She also included Trump's reminiscences of the good old days before political correctness when protesters were taken out on stretchers, and ended with this harangue Trump made yesterday in St. Louis, just hours before the UIC rally:
"You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is that nobody wants to hurt each other anymore. Right? And they're being politically correct when they take them out so it takes a little bit longer, and honestly protesters, they realize it, they realize that there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore. So that's it.
Our country has to toughen up folks. We have to toughen up. These people are bringing us down. Remember that. They are bringing us down. No reason for it. These people are so bad for our country... You have no idea folks, you have no idea. They contribute nothing. They can get up, and when they are being whisked out, they can raise their bad finger up in the air, and drive people...which is very unfair, and some people get very angry at that because you know what that represents. And then when they get a little bit overly-angry, they're in trouble. The guy who raised his finger? No, that's no problem.
Rachel told her audience she is certain that from the beginning, Trump has deliberately stoked his supporters' anger in order to incite violence and civil unrest as a means to get himself elected. She thinks his plan is to now dismiss the Republicans who denounce him as weak and spineless, and cast himself as the only candidate who is strong enough to deal with the "thugs" who are the cause of the problem.
"American presidential politics isn't like this for anybody else," observed Rachel. "American presidential politics did not get this way on its own. This is the work of a presidential candidate who deliberately made this happen."
If Rachel is right about Trump's plan, watch for the campaign/reality show's next episode to be Trump's promise rescue his supporters from the "political correctness" of the protesters he creates.
Photo is from Rachel Maddow's Facebook album