So Donald Trump has made news again. Anyone who reads this blog has probably heard it by now. But, just so we’re clear on what he said, here’s the quote:
“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially, abolish — the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
He’s imagining a time after Hillary Clinton has been elected, a time when she’s picking judges. At that point, there’s nothing you can do — except (wink, wink) maybe there is! The official line out of the Trump campaign, desperately trying to spin a comment that’s clearly out of bounds is saying he was just talking about political advocacy by Second Amendment enthusiasts. Beat her in the court of public opinion and then at the ballot box, I guess. But to say this is about writing sternly worded letters or going to the ballot box is dishonest. Folks looking at this statement and telling you it’s about anything legitimate to the political process are like the shopkeeper in Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.
This is a guy leading rallies where supporters are advocating locking up his political opponent. This is a guy who undermines the political process by — well in advance of the election — claiming it’s rigged. This is a guy who questions the integrity of the judiciary because the Hoosier on the bench is of Latino ancestry. That guy certainly doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.
And then you have our governor. Governor Pence has not been our best leader, but his flaws are more or less ordinary political flaws. I might disagree with him, but until he embraced Trump, I don’t believe I ever thought his decisions seriously undermined the fabric of our democracy. When Trump’s missteps are of the less serious variety, like throwing shade at a baby and his mother, Pence’s job ends up looking like the Kevin Bacon character in “Animal House,” saying “Remain calm! All is well!!!”
But, he’s made a Faustian bargain. His ambition for higher political office on a national level has caused him to make common cause with Donald Trump, a man whose vision of politics — a vision where any loss has to be because he was stabbed in the back; a vision where “joking” (not joking) about violence as a political tool is acceptable — that vision does threaten our democratic system. And Governor Pence is not only tolerating this vision; he’s trying to give this vision a home in the White House. We’ve been numbed, I think, by political rhetoric where every policy decision with which we disagree is a step on the path to tyranny. But, imprisoning and killing political opponents are hallmarks of tyrannical systems of government. Sure, he or his supporters will say he was “just joking.” But, Trump is not notably a man of good humor. His “jokes” are the same as those of a bully who says something insulting or pushes you around and then, when called on it, tries to avoid responsibility and blame you as someone who “can’t take a joke.”
It’s not funny, and citizens need to speak out and vote against Trump to show this kind of rhetoric is not acceptable in a political candidate.
Update: Paul Waldman has a post that goes into a little more depth on some of the same themes I alluded to above. It’s worth a read in its entirety, but here’s a good paragraph:
[T]this comes after Trump has been trying to delegitimize the results of the election before it actually happens, claiming that the vote will be “rigged.” If you’re arguing to your angry, heavily armed supporters, who already think the federal government is tyrannical, that there’s a conspiracy afoot to steal the election and that your opponent will be sending jackbooted government thugs to confiscate their guns, you don’t get to pretend that when you say that the “Second Amendment people” might be able to stop the next president’s judges from subverting their gun rights that it’s all innocent and you would never contemplate something as irresponsible as encouraging violence.