Donald Trump is driving everyone a bit batty. His foes and even his friends are all getting weary thinking about him and certainly talking about him. And his presence in this campaign has brought out the worst in us, even among those who are our best and most thoughtful.
I do not include myself among those labeled “thoughtful.” I know what I am and I tend toward the more emotional and even inflammatory.
I am of two minds on “thoughtful” anyway. On the one hand, I admire the precision of mind and the measured tones achieved by the thoughtful. On the other hand, many who strike that pose, that often-academic pose, seem more to be pussyfooting around when what is often called for is something more direct.
The Internet and the streets are full of immature accusations that Trump is Hitler or Mussolini. You can expect that. They said that about George Bush and will say that about any conservative anywhere. We are all fascists, don’t you know.
But it is shocking when such accusations are leveled by the thoughtful. Remember when Trump retweeted the line about preferring to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as sheep and how Mussolini said that? He did not originate the tweet, but all of a sudden this was proof that Trump was a fascist. This was said even by men and women who, in normal times, would never say such silly things.
It is striking when our most thoughtful lose their thoughtfulness and we can see that with Donald Trump. He’s driving them crazy and into the arms of thoughtless Facebook memes, bad analogies, and the argumentation one usually finds among youngsters.
I will not name names of our best who have comported themselves in a less than thoughtful manner because the few examples I will use are from people I deeply admire and wish I could be more like.
A priest I know, one of our side’s smartest brains on bioethics and much else, actually suggested that Trump’s supporters correctly view him “Dear Leader,” a direct reference to the lunatic despot of North Korea.
North Korea is a slave country run by a man who just sentenced an American college student to 15 years at hard labor for tearing down a propaganda poster. It is a country where children are born into slave colonies, who grow up, live their lives, and die there. It is a country so poverty stricken that North Korean farmers sell their daughters to Chinese men looking for wives. The priest I know actually stuck to that analogy. He defended it.
Another big brain I have never met but have admired from afar accused me on Facebook of supporting physical assaults against women in general because I questioned the story of a reporter who accused Trump’s campaign manager of assaulting her. She has even filed criminal charges against him.
The gentleman and I simply disagree on what the evidence shows. The fact that I do not see what he sees in the video evidence and that I question the reporter’s claims means, according to him, that I favor violence against women. He said he was “surprised” someone in my position would be an “apologist” for violence against women. The cheap “I am surprised you favor some sort of vile thing because you disagree with me” line is typical of millennial social justice warriors on the Internet, but not our most thoughtful conservative interlocutors. Nonetheless, here it was.
The third example, and there could be many more, comes from the man I admire the most in public square, usually the most careful analyst on our side. He compared the violence at Donald Trump rallies to the violence in the early part of the twentieth century, a reference to the left-right street violence between fascists and communists in the streets of European cities between the wars. The analogy is only half right. It is clear that the hard left has targeted our current political situation as a moment ripe to foment revolution. They have promised a summer of violence.
The charges, however, that Trump supporters are analogous to brown-shirts is similar to the empty charges a few years ago that Tea Partiers were no more than violent racists. Have some Trump supporters succumbed to the violent provocations of the violent left? Sure. It would take a remarkable amount of restraint not to respond to people screaming in your face and in some cases throwing punches. Has Trump been stupid in his calls for his supporters to fight back. Certainly. But this does not make Trump and his supporters remotely analogous to fascists roaming the streets of America looking for commies to beat.
The summer of violence is here. Organized violence is planned for New York City, Washington DC, and cities around the country. There will be blood. But this has little to do with Donald Trump and everything to do with a moment that the George Soros-funded Occupy Wall Street-Black Lives Matter crowd has decided upon. In recent days, Ted Cruz rallies have similarly been invaded.
The good news is that it has become clear after the Wisconsin primary that Trump will very likely not have 1237 delegates needed on opening day at Cleveland this July. He will not win on the first ballot which means delegates who are committed may vote their conscience on the second ballot and it is very likely, I would say certain, that Trump cannot win on the second ballot. As long as the established GOP does not pull a fast one and try to push through a candidate who did not win even a single primary, or a person who did not even bother to run, one can hope that Trump will not go third party and hand the White House and Supreme Court over to Hillary Clinton.
When this is all over, let’s hope all the burned bridges get rebuilt and that our best will go back to being our most thoughtful.
(Photo credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)