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We as a nation have a bad habit. We cannot quit talking about this most despicable of men, a symbol of everything wrong with the American nation and society: Celebrity for the sake of celebrity, the worship of wealth and mammon, imagining that wealth or celebrity somehow confers wisdom or legitimacy, not to mention his pandering to hatreds of all kinds.
Then there is the violence he brings with him everywhere he goes, stirred by his base appeal to the most rabid and brainless bigots. As of this writing, more than 50 people have been assaulted at Trump rallies. The worst of this is not yet over. The worst is likely yet to come. We as a nation should prepare ourselves for five very likely waves of violence Trump and his followers could bring:
1. His followers form an actual militia.
This seems to have briefly already happened, with opinions split on whether it disbanded or is still around. On March 13, the Lion’s Guard formed and gained about 500 followers in less than a day. The group imitated fascist iconography, a red or yellow lion with a blue collar, similar to the British Union of Fascists’ symbol. Lion’s Guard also uses the same Mussolini slogan that Trump tweeted and then defended to media, “Better to be a lion for a day than a sheep for eternity.” Another symbol of Lion’s Guard has the slogan “God With Trump” in imitation of the Nazi slogan “God With Us” but with crosses in place of swastikas.
The militia migrated from Twitter to LionsOfTrump.net. Over 40 people responded with calls in the comments section to form militias in Arizona, California, Florida, and elsewhere. They vow to “defend against Anti MAGA far left infiltrators.” MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again, Trump’s campaign slogan. So far they have limited themselves to claiming to identify protest leaders.
Many of Trump’s followers already are in militias or other armed or violent groups, white supremacists, white nationalists, and racists and bigots and anti-government zealots of all stripes. White racists did robocalls for him in South Carolina. David Duke of the KKK and half a dozen other racist groups publicly endorse him. Jeremy DeLemus, a co-chair of Veterans for Trump in New Hampshire, took part in the armed takeover by Oregon militia.
2. Trump loses at the likely brokered convention in Cleveland. His followers not only riot. Some start shooting people. A few may even bomb their enemies, perceived or imagined.
Trump already “predicted,” that is, he proposed, encouraged, and threatened that his followers would riot if he were not the nominee. Cleveland protests and counter protests and police efforts to control them will make the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 seem gentle by comparison.
We already saw the chaotic Trump rally in Chicago a few weeks ago caused by Trump campaign incompetence and the childish anger of Trump followers. Unwilling to face protests, Trump’s people postponed and then canceled their rally. The police were not consulted and were caught unprepared. Dozens were arrested or injured, and then angry Trump followers blamed the anti-Trump protesters.
Now imagine Trump followers’ anger, mixed in with the higher number of gun owners in the rural conservative areas outside Cleveland, and with militia heavy areas like Michigan close by.
There may even be bombings. Sound unlikely? Ask William Celli, a Trump supporter currently under arrest since December who plotted to target Muslims with his homemade bombs. Celli pledged online to “follow Trump to the end of the world.”
3. Trump wins the nomination. Hate crimes in his name increase.
We have already seen attacks invoking Trump’s name. The earliest was two men in Boston beating an immigrant. Trump declined to criticize them, even seemed to praise them as “very passionate.”
4. Trump is nominated and then loses the general election in a landslide. Keep in mind he only has the support of 35% of one party, about 12% of the nation, and is despised by nearly all independents and Democrats. About a quarter of all Republicans swear they would never vote for him, and will instead stay home or vote Democratic or third party. By one poll, Trump would lose to Sanders by 20 points, to Clinton by 10 points. Electorally, Trump would carry few states outside of Arizona or the Deep South.
But his followers do not understand this, or they deny most of it. They may riot, perhaps shoot people or bomb enemies. Hates crimes in his name would also certainly increase. His followers live in a bubble, are among the least educated or politically savvy, and feel very vulnerable in this economy, and culturally persecuted. They will not taking being “losers” lying down.
The inauguration of the new president especially will be targeted. The elected opposition and news media also could get targeted, much like during the start of the Tea Party when Black congressmen were spit on, offices vandalized, one congresswoman was shot, and militia members held armed demonstrations within sight of the White House.
5. Trump becomes the Republican Party. The old elites fade or form a minor party of their own. The Grand Old Party initials change to stand for God (only nominally since churchgoers largely support Ted Cruz), Old whites, and self-proclaimed or creatively imagined Patriotic anger. Anger and violence at elections becomes a regular feature of Republicanism.
Another Trump will take over in 2020, either literal or ideological offspring. His spray on orange tan, heavy base of white powder under his eyes, and volume of voice can’t hide the fact that he is, like most of his followers, an Angry Old Man. He will be 70 before Election Day and (a ridiculous doctor’s claim to the contrary) has had health problems since childhood. He received a medical deferment for the Vietnam War, had a brother who died from alcoholism, and has sharp unexplained weight fluctuations. Trump’s regular doctor is a specialist in internal medicine rather than a general practitioner, and that may indicate serious problems he is hiding. Many medical observers also believe he suffers from chronic insomnia, which explains his manic behavior and chronically poor grasp of reality.
Trump’s Republicans or third party would need a new leader after his death, incapacity, or simple boredom. Any of his three sons, who often show the same sense of spoiled entitlement and contempt for others, would fit that bill. So would figures such as fringe conspiracy theorist and former wrestler and governor Jesse Ventura. So would such unlikely figures as Ted Nugent or Sarah Palin (after another reality TV run.) Expect the violent rhetoric, and violence at rallies and against opponents, to continue into the future indefinitely.