We Knew This Was Coming

Regarding the violence breaking out in Trump rallies — how many of us have been saying for years that the Right would probably turn violent if they perceived they were losing power? Inflammatory rhetoric has been priming them for years. And they finally figured out the Republican Party elites weren’t leading them where they thought they were going.

All they needed was some two-bit demagogue giving them permission to act out their inner bigot.

The Los Angeles Times has a story about how some student groups at U of Chicago got together to shut down Trump’s rally Friday night.

Planning for the event started Monday night, when leaders from a range of groups gathered in a campus lecture hall. They included the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Assn. and the Fearless Undocumented Association, which advocates for immigrants in the country illegally.

Other local and national activism groups also got involved, including some local labor organizations, Black Lives Matter and MoveOn.Org, which has endorsed Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Interesting. Anyway, I agree with Dave Neiwert, who writes,

Any kind of violence, even defensive or responsive, from Trump’s opponents is going to be used as an excuse to escalate, ad infinitum.

This is a very dangerous time, and progressives are going to have to be smart about how they confront this tactic, which is going to happen increasingly as the election year drags along. They are going to have to be incredibly disciplined, and incredibly committed to nonviolence when confronted with the viciousness of the budding Brownshirts on the other side.

Yesterday Trump tweeted, “Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!” To which Sanders responded, “Send them. They deserve to see what a real honest politician sounds like.”

David Atkins has been writing some great stuff at Washington Monthly this weekend, such as why Karl Rove and David Brooks are worse than Trump. And why Donald Trump is Merely the Symptom. The Republican Party Itself is the Disease. But I want to call your attention particularly to How Clinton’s Reagan-AIDS Gaffe Helps Explain Why Populism Is Rising.

When we look at the populist movements taking hold of both of the left and the right in America, a common thread is anger at elites who seem to be more interested in maintaining a comfortable duopoly than in actually solving problems. There’s a sense that America is governed by a set of wealthy and entrenched incompetents who are so socially and economically enmeshed with one another that they’re incapable of holding one another to account or feeling the pain of normal Americans.

As Chris Hayes explains in his tremendous book Twilight of the Elites, American contempt for institutions and their leaders derives from the poisonous effect of the social connection and comfort of those classes: wealthy political elites go to all the same cocktail parties and their kids all go to the same fancy schools. They buy into each others’ myths, they lose touch with reality and they lose the ability to hold each other to account.

Pretty well said.

18 thoughts on “We Knew This Was Coming

  1. While I don’t disagree with the general conclusions Atkins draws as quoted in your post, I don’t agree that HRC ‘s statement about NR and HIV necessarily arose out of that blinkered state. I think it’s likely, given her past record with regard to the disease, to be the result of a combination of a partial recollection of NR’s strong advocacy for Alzheimer’s awareness and research, with campaign-trail fatigue.
    Of course, presidential candidates aren’t allowed to mention tiredness, or acknowledge the possibility of memory lapses.

  2. .There’s a sense that America is governed by a set of wealthy and entren incompetents…”
    Yes, we are, for the most part.

    “… who are so socially and economically enmeshed with one another that they’re incapable of holding one another to account or feeling the pain of normal Americans.”
    See: Carville, James; Matalin, Mary.

    Those two rake in bucks as a married couple who make that money by fucking the rest of us!


  3. It’s difficult to comment on the recent events at Trump rallies without “going Godwin.”

    David Neiwert’s article was well done and disturbing as usual. There seems to be a confluence of classically fascistic elements. One of the American contributions is the idea that “government should be run like a business.” That gradually morphs into looking for a CEO in the office of president. This papers over the replacement of powers defined by a democratic process with the more dictatorial powers of the the top dog in a dog eat dog world. It’s hard for me to imagine someone more dismissive and authoritarian than Trump, when he encourages his followers to eject or brutalize a protestor. For the moment, all I can say is that it is madness. As the Great Santina said, “Welcome to the eye of the storm, gentlemen.”

  4. These sad events of late made me think of Lewis Powell’s “”Attack on the American Free Enterprise System” letter, and how it was a precursor to getting us here, at least as far as the culpability of the elites (on both sides of the aisle) in this mess. It was inevitable, as now we have both dems and republicans groveling at the trough, and the public has only gotten lip service, essentially. This was inevitable.

    And with eight months to go before the election, its only going to get worse.

  5. The last part of the article on Rove and Brooks reminded me of this Woody Allen quote:

    “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

    Yes, CSM, that letter is also known as the “Powell Memorandum,” isn’t it? Everyone needs to tape it to their refrigerator for a few weeks until it sinks in.

  6. “All they needed was some two-bit demagogue giving them permission to act out their inner bigot”

    They sure did get one didn’t they! I was not happy with the way the protesters acted in Chicago, the ends do not justify the means as they say. I’m fine with protesting, attending the events, standing up with signs etc. But our side should not be engaging in the violence and hate. Let Der Trump and his “followers’ have their hate fest, the whole world is watching. What did President Obama say to Mittens, please proceed?

  7. Pardon the nitpick but; University of Illinois at Chicago. Not University of Chicago.

    UIC is actually very close to the old Haymarket in Chicago.

    UC is Obama’s old employer on the south side.

  8. Goatherd, yes, that’s it. That memo laid out the strategy for essentially buying government. Interestingly, at the time of the memo, 1971, there were around 3200 lobbyists trolling DC. As of 2009, there were upwards of 33,000. Evidence that they’re getting their money’s worth.

    I think though, even Powell might say his plan was taken to the extreme. Congress essentially works exclusively for corporations and the wealthy. There has been little if any legislation passed in the last 45 years that was targeted exclusively to help the working and middle classes. Any sops there were, typically had huge strings attached benefiting the owner classes.

    The ACA is a perfect example. Sure, the ACA is a good thing. It made health insurance available to millions of people, but left the same corrupt system in place, with taxpayers picking up the slack to affordability. But this came with a huge windfall of hundreds of billions to the health insurance and pharma industries. And the mandate insured a guaranteed flow of customers.

    The response to observations like this is typically, “its better than nothing!” Powell could have made that the marketing slogan to the masses.

  9. a commenter at Ian Welsh’s blog wrote

    “People did disrupt Hitler’s rallies. Germany in the late 20s and early 30s had running street battles between the fascists and the communists. The continual violence actually strengthened the Nazis, as people wanted a strong hand to restore order.

    “This is the first time since the Trump phenomenon that I’ve actually begun to worry.”

  10. Well, at the last violent political rally in Chicago, the 1968 convention, the Democrats instigated the violence, specifically Mayor Daley and his notorious police force.

    Eventually, the peace movement achieved peace, but precious little else– the rest of the agenda gave way to the gradual regression to culturally conservative repression we live under to this day.

    And Nixon won, also– nit the Democrats.. Twice. The whole movement moved pretty much one issue only, without reshaping politics or the culture as a whole.

  11. Actually, as Mayor Daley said in 1968, “The police are not there to create disorder, they are there to preserve disorder.”

    You don’t have be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

  12. Those that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.
    I don’t know how that fits into the topic at hand but it certainly sounds like it would fit in somewhere.

  13. I think the strategy needs to be to oppose w/out violence in large numbers wherever Trump supporters gather. Bring the media and invite accept resign yourselves to the violence and victims.

    The strategy is simple and will be expensive. The hate has to spill out for all to see before the general election. Trump waited 48 hours to denounce the KKK to signal to them that ‘wink, wink’ his rejection of racism is a facade. Trump has invited them to fly their freak. The Trump people who are racist will act it out with violence when opposed. They don’t have the discipline NOT to be brutal and Trump doesn’t have them under control. We can’t return fire or provoke with threats – only passively resist.

    If Trump is allowed to capture the racist radical minority AND pivot to the center, he can win the general election. He IS charismatic enough to win. The ‘center’ will never love Hillary but the ‘center’ will decisively reject Trump if the hate & violence are in full display and Trump fails to reject it. We have to draw the ugliness into full view and NOT be at fault for bringing the violence ourselves.

    Fortunately, I will probably be safely in jail when the snot hits the fan. 🙂

  14. Doug: You are not going to be in jail, you will be on parole. I have already ordered it.

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