I'm probably not the first person to note this, but Donald Trump's presidential campaign presents as an example of life imitating some fairly average art.

This morning I watched Donald Trump rhapsodising about the wall he plans to build on the border with Mexico ("It's going to be so tall ... it's going to be beautiful ... as beautiful as a wall can be") and then glorying in the expulsion of protesters from his rally. Then I read articles like this and this detailing the (often racially charged) violence that is becoming a commonplace at Trump's events.

And all of a sudden I was 16 again and watching this.

(While I am, as per my usual modus operandi, completely over-egging things here, this Atlantic Monthly story is pretty disturbing:

Just below the surface of a Trump rally runs an undercurrent of violence. There are few overt threats. But there are thousands of people who are deeply angry at the state of the nation, whose anger is being intensified by the speaker on stage.

The many protesters Wednesday provided targets for that anger. As Trump talked, a murmur would rise somewhere in the arena. A bunch of blue shirts (Fayetteville police) and gray shirts (Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies) would run toward its source. Somewhere, a young person would be standing, perhaps holding a sign. People around them would rip the sign out of her hands and tear it up. The cops would yank the protester out. Trump had a punchline for every one. “You see what he’s got written on his very dirty undershirt? ‘Love is the answer,’” he said. “I wonder who makes love ...” He trailed off.

The rest of the article is well worth a read as an insight into the form of politics Trump is practicing.)

Comments (9)

by Andrew Geddis on March 12, 2016
Andrew Geddis

So when I said "I'm probably not the first person to note this", turns out I was right.

by Andre Terzaghi on March 12, 2016
Andre Terzaghi

Ronald Reagan 1987: "Tear down this wall."

Donald Trump 2015: "I'm gonna build a wall."

by Andre Terzaghi on March 13, 2016
Andre Terzaghi

Andrew, do you think Trump would be able to make the same kinds of incitements to violence with impunity here in New Zealand? As I understand it, you really have to try pretty hard to go beyond the First Amendment protections in the US. But in New Zealand, speech that could lead to harm to others is somewhat more limited, isn't it?

by Andrew Geddis on March 13, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Andre,

Probably the Trump statement that would be the most fraught with legal risk here is this:

""if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of 'em, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise."

Pretty sure the police would be interested in that as an incitement to commit assault, or else this: "incit[ing] or encourag[ing] any person to behave, in a riotous, offensive, threatening, insulting, or disorderly manner that is likely in the circumstances to cause violence against persons or property to start or continue."

What I'd like to think, but, is that any NZ candidate/party that engaged in the tone of Trump's politicking would be considered so beyond the pale that people wouldn't go the the rallies/the media wouldn't fawn over it. Or maybe I'm out of touch with the real NZ ... .

by Lee Churchman on March 13, 2016
Lee Churchman

Or maybe I'm out of touch with the real NZ ... .

Once upon a time Springbok Tour protesters were considered fair game by the not so silent majority.

by Andrew Geddis on March 14, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Lee,

But we've learned from that! We've changed! Now everyone sees those protesters as heroes!

(He says with a cynical edge to his tone ... .)

by Lee Churchman on March 14, 2016
Lee Churchman

I'm cynical that the media tend to play up the immigration and religion issues when Trump spends most of his time talking about trade and elite incompetence. 

I'm a Sanders/Nader kind of guy, but Trump is right that free trade turned out to be bad for a lot of Americans, and he's absolutely right that US elites aren't fit for purpose (although he's likely no better). The latter seems to be a weird taboo in the US (with the notable exception of Christopher Hayes "Twilight of the Elites" – Hayes is hardly a Trump supporter).

by Fentex on March 14, 2016
Fentex

Trump is right that free trade turned out to be bad for a lot of Americans

The kind of free trade that let's one offshore work and use H1B visas to recruit foreign staff as Trump does?

The problem with Trump isn't that he's failing to tap into voter hostility at the state of U.S governance (I think it's been demonstrated that anger at the status quo is high in the U.S) but that he offers nothing to replace it.

And in lieu of substance to answer enquiry it's beginning to look like aggression is pouring into the space left empty. Trumps bluster under pressure isn't producing reactive policy but reactive violence and that has a lot to do with him being a member of the ruling class not having anything to replace the status quo with.

I suspect he is, if not now, quite soon going to become terrified of his situation because he's going to have to choose to either betray or lead the mob and I think he's beginning to discern the outlines of the tiger he's riding.

by Lee Churchman on March 14, 2016
Lee Churchman

The problem with Trump isn't that he's failing to tap into voter hostility at the state of U.S governance (I think it's been demonstrated that anger at the status quo is high in the U.S) but that he offers nothing to replace it.

That makes him no different from the rest of the Republican candidates or indeed the Republican party, who have all appeared to have abandoned factive utterances for emotivism when it comes to policy claims.

Having said that, the liberal pearl clutching over this week's minor instances of biffo in Chicago is just as silly given '68.

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