The growing protests are helping Trump, and hurting the GOP

I’m sitting here, maybe half an hour into Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Kansas City, Missouri this Saturday night, and it’s been one non-stop protest after the next. Trump has barely been able to speak. The police take a protester out, Trump starts talking, then 30 seconds later another protester stands up and shuts down the speech again.

It’s a smart tactic, and it is in fact the way protests should be done. You don’t all stand up at once. You come out in dribbles, annoying the heck out of the speaker as time goes on. And Trump is definitely looking annoyed, and he’s entirely off-script, just rambling at this point. (He actually started saying he wanted to “ruin the protesters lives.”)

The question being asked on Twitter and elsewhere is whether these protests are helping or hurting Trump. And my answer is, both.

trump-orangeThe protests are helping Trump with his own followers. They love a martyr, and it’s not like they’re not already aware that Trump panders to racism, homophobia, sexism, and openly mocks people with disabilities. So the fact that people are protesting Trump’s prejudice and extremism probably won’t have an impact on his supporters. In fact, the protests probably endear his supporters all the more.

But perhaps the target for the protest message isn’t — or shouldn’t be — people who are already going to vote for Trump. Perhaps a better target is undecided voters; and just as importantly, the Republican party leadership who, to date, have been awfully lukewarm on taking Trump on, or down.

While some people feel that protests are feel-good things that succeed by simply being. Meaning, the mere existence of your protest is a “good thing.” It’s really not. Protests, like any political act, should be done for a reason. And the judge of the worthiness of the act is to what degree it furthers some larger goal.

In the case of the anti-Trump protests, the larger goal is stopping Trump. But I’m not sure that’s going to happen by scaring his current supporters. It’s going to happen by convincing undecideds to vote for someone else, and by convincing the Republican party leadership that they need to step in, now.

And as much as these non-stop protests tonight might be revving up Trump’s base, it’s also reinforcing the message that the guy and his campaign are a mess.

What could the protesters do to up the ante?

1. Non-stop protests at every single Trump event from now until he drops out of the race, or beyond. The way things are going, I can’t imagine the protests are going to slow down.

2. Target the message away from Trump, and towards his GOP opponents — Rubio, Cruz and Kasich, asking them why they’re not standing up and saving the party and the country — and pose the same questions to the RNC leadership. At this point, the only people who can help is the grasstops, aka the GOP leadership, including their presidential candidates. None of them, to date, have taken Trump on nearly directly enough. And even though Rubio, Cruz and Kasich are now criticizing Trump for inciting violence, they all still said they’d support him as the candidate. So, why should Trump listen?

3. It’s intriguing that the other communities slurred by Trump, especially people with disabilities, aren’t protesting to the degree the black community appears to have, at least in Chicago last night. I know from personal experience that people with disabilities make awfully effective protesters. The media loves them, and they tend to make their target cringe. After Donald Trump openly mocked that NYT reporter with a disability, making fun of the way the man talks and moves, there should have been non-stop protests by people with disabilities at all of his events, at the RNC headquarters in Washington, DC, and even perhaps at the GOP Congress. That would get the party’s attention.

It’s a high-stakes game. These protests could help cement Trump’s support in Ohio and Florida. And if that happens, the game is over, at least in terms of Trump getting the nomination unless the party steps in. But at this point, there isn’t much choice. The Republican party has made clear that they’re not willing to do what it takes to take Trump down. And unless someone forces their hand, this man could become our next president.

And at the very least, the GOP needs to pay the price for creating and enabling this monster.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis  — Win a pony! (not really)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • huntress00

    I’ve been watching the video’s of these protests for awhile now, and I am just shocked at the sheer stupidity of it. If Bernie Sanders supporters had put the same level of time and energy into his campaign as they have trying to derail Trump, he would probably be winning right now. You have been misled and manipulated on an unprecidented scale, and are now just making fools of yourselves. You’ve continued to hyper-focus all your attention on Trump and his “manners” (eye-roll), and have subsequently destroyed any chance for Bernie to compete against Hillary. This is exactly what Hillary and her elitist cronies wanted. Are you people really that ignorant? It’s very sad that you have no concept you are being played, and used as voluntary political chess pieces. YOU are the reason Bernie is finished!

    Try and let this sink in, kids…Trump protests do nothing but keep the attention on Trump, and often rally new voters behind him. What you need to understand is that most Americans really don’t give a sh!t about your hurt feelings, your lifestyle choices, or your sense of entitlement. We care about the economy and security of our nation, first and foremost. If you are of voting age, you are an adult. So, stop whining, get over this fictious “right not to be offended”, and grow the f’k up. I swear, I’ve seen more spine in a jellyfish!

  • Albury Smith

    The US senator formerly known as “Tremblechin” now has a new moniker*:
    http://crooksandliars.com/2016/02/samantha-bee-slams-chinless-dildo-mitch
    *h/t to Samantha Bee :-)

  • HandsomeMrToad

    Amen!

  • Albury Smith

    President Obama’s doing a rope-a-dope on the Congressional GOP too. After they disgrace themselves blocking eminently qualified 63 year-old Judge Merrick Garland, President Clinton II will put in an equally qualified ~40 year-old Ruth/Sonia/Elena all wrapped into one.

  • DarylCoda

    But it’s ok when non-white Americans “descend into group think” right?

  • Jacque Lowman Robinson

    Since when is the “proper way to protest” involve stopping a speaker from talking at his own rally? The media, so-called reporters, collages and universities are teaching a very warped sense of freedom of speech. Their actions are saying you have freedom to speak only as long as I agree with you. Whether you are the government or the public, when you stop free speech, you are changing the dynamics of this country and heading towards an environment that you may not like once it becomes you that can no longer feel free to speak your opinion.

  • Shmseg Semaphore

    Voicing opinions on various threads is not trolling, I am sure you would not object if you agreed with the opinions. Canceling the event by Trump was a good call, what would you rather do, have people die and turn into a riot? which is what the “protesters” wanted anyway to make him look bad. It won’t work and it backfired. Just watch it, tonight.

  • HandsomeMrToad

    Hillary’s baggage, like Bill’s, is an asset for her. Chasing empty scandals makes the Clintons’ opponents look petty, trivial, kooky, and out of touch with the country’s real problems. It’s a rope-a-dope game, same as Muhammad Ali pulled on George Foreman. Remember: who was the only politician who lost his job because of Monica Lewinsky? Newt Gingrich, that’s who.

    And Sanders would not be a strong candidate in the general election. The middle/swing voters who determine the outcomes of general elections hate the term “socialism”, and all variations of it. Bernie, much as I love him, would probably lose to Trump, and would certainly lose to Cruz.

  • John Hart

    A Hitler rally in 1933 would have been different than one in 1937 when he became more outspoken. Do you shut down a rally because you fear where in the future it may lead?

  • John Hart

    You forget that Trump is renting a venue for his supporters. It is basically a private party. That is great American debate. Racist incendiary rhetoric or just being blunt and politically incorrect? Is political correctness getting to the point where common sense has no value anymore? Is Trump just saying what a lot of people are thinking? If a liberal sees a group of black youth on one side of the street in a rough neighborhood and a group of white youth on the other side, will he avoid the black youths? If asked would the liberal deny to himself the reasons for the choice he made? Is the liberal a little racist or just using common sense? Should Christmas plays be banned because they may be offensive to other religions? How about affirmative action? Etc.

  • John Hart

    I know people who want either Bernie or Trump just to send a message to the Washington establishment.

  • John Hart

    That is a good point except the GOP hate Cruz more than Trump. They just find Trump extremely annoying. I still think Kasich would be their best bet

  • John Hart

    Cruz is more scary than Trump once you get past the election rhetoric

  • John Hart

    Why not? A Trump or Cruz presidency would change the senate and house to a democrat majority.

  • John Hart

    He does not have to. The democrats are not being much brighter than the GOP this campaign. They should support Sanders and be silent about Trump then wait for the general election. Bernie has leas baggage.

  • John Hart

    The irony is if you look at Trumps background he is actually more moderate than the other GOP candidates. His present rhetoric is just a brilliant marketing campaign. Free publicity all week long.

  • John Hart

    I believe American Muslims are for the most part moderate and good people who embrace American ideals like freedom of religion, but when you read pew polls from most Muslim nations, it is disturbing to see around 80 percent support apostasy laws like death for leaving the religion. That is the argument, world wide there a few Muslim moderates.

  • John Hart

    Good point but that is not Trump’s style. He is trying to appear as a man of strength who will be tough and get the best deal for Americans. If protesters invade his private party and harass his guest, he will say don’t let them push us around.

  • John Hart

    But Bernie was speaking in the street in a public place I believe, so the protesters had a right to be there. Trump is renting a private venue for his supporters so protesters have no right to be there.

  • John Hart

    A few months ago I was criticizing Trump a lot on social media but now I find myself defending him a lot. There are many things to criticize Trump on but the media distorts many of his statements and omits the facts. Like the whole “did not condone the KKK fiasco.” Now protesters are crashing the venue which Trump paid for and harassing his supporters and everyone criticizes Trump for it. Forget about the whole freedom of speech argument, when did protesters get a right to invade a private party at a venue that Trump rented out? If I rented a hall for an event like a wedding and a bunch of protesters showed up and swore and yelled and pushed my guest, I would want to take a swing at them too.

  • goulo

    Yes, it’s an unexpected surprise and good blast from the past seeing you back. :)

  • goulo

    Heh. :)

    But seriously, they believe Trump is authority and don’t understand the lessons of history showing that Trump will cause chaos. :(

  • peteywheats

    If voters hate Chaos, why would they vote for Trump?

  • peteywheats

    At this point, there are two plans among the GOP, First Plan: Nominate Trump, Second Plan: Stop Trump. The Stop Trump people will try to deny Trump the nomination at the convention. Stopping Trump at the convention will alienate the Trump wing of the party (Maybe 40%). Trump and Cruz were buddy-buddy much longer than any other two Republican candidates, so, compared to Rubio and Kasich, Cruz is positioned well to take on the most Trump voters if Trump is denied the nomination. Also, Cruz has the 2nd highest number of delegates, I think that makes him the leading contender for the Stop Trump part of the GOP. If the party bosses pick the electorially unpopular Rubio or Kasich (or worse, anyone else) they are basically telling their entire party that all their donations, campaigning, voting were meaningless wastes of their time and money and were thrown totally away. By picking Cruz at least a small portion of their electorate will stay happy.

  • timncguy

    i don’t see how Cruz can get the nod. He can’t win outright and I can’t see them giving it to him in a contested convention. They all hate him. and, if they are going to take it away from Trump, they might as well give it to someone who appears sane.

  • peteywheats

    I tend to agree, mostly, but I think Cruz will be even easier to beat than Trump. Cruz, not being a famous teevee Reality Star will not inspire as many idiot-americans to show up and vote.

  • peteywheats

    Wrong. Bernie showed real strength by not allowing protesters to completely shut him down. Bernie let them have their say for a couple of minutes, then he finished his event. Trump cancelled the entire event, so he could cry on Hannity’s shoulder on FOX NEWS. He is a weakling and a wuss.

  • timncguy

    There isn’t ANY candidate on the Republican side I want put in a position to potentially become president. So, that argument just doesn’t work for me.

  • DGT

    ” I want Trump to be their nominee. He will be the easiest of the bunch to beat.”

    I said the same thing in 2000 about a comically dimwitted and barely literature buffoon who was seeking the GOP nomination. I thought there was no way that someone so clearly out of his depth could win. I was wrong.

    Trump as the nominee puts him in a position to potentially become President. That’s not a chance I want to take.

  • HandsomeMrToad

    I’ve been saying for weeks: I think that at least some of these protesters are plants, hired by Trump’s people to make his rallies more dramatic.

  • Gwendolynaellis


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  • Shmseg Semaphore

    The protesters are helping Trump. Not letting someone speak at his own event and purposefully trying to disrupt Trump is backfiring. The same treatment occurred at a Sanders rally a while ago, The difference was that poor Bernie meekly let them have it and it was sad. I actually felt bad for him. Trump will not let that happen. That shows strength, that along with charisma is producing the right chemical reaction. Many ex-democrats and independents like me will vote for him. For lots of people in the middle, a Trump is a good choice.

  • timncguy

    I really don’t understand democrats going out of their way to try to help the republicans stop Trump. I want Trump to be their nominee. He will be the easiest of the bunch to beat. I really don’t want to see a contested convention where the party decides to give it to someone other than Trump. They all HATE Cruz. So, they won’t give it to him and he would be the next easiest to beat. They would end up trying to find a way to give it to Kasich who comes off as being reasonable. He isn’t reasonable of course. But, the media portrays him that way. He would be the one who is most difficult to beat.

    Isn’t the golden rule of politics that when your opponent is beating himself just GET OUT OF THE WAY? That is what we should be doing with the repugs and their self-inflicted problems. Stop trying to help them. Let them rip themselves apart.

  • nomorehypocrisy

    Exactly my point. It is the response that matters. But not encouraging/inciting (by those of us watching/commenting) is important too.

  • Outspoken1

    My old memory is failing me right now, but were there not similar tactics in prior elections using video cameras to shame candidates when they said outrageous things (unfortunately, Trump can say whatever he wants with no repercussions)? It truly is terrifying watching the (mainly white) American voters descend into ‘group-think’ like the Cults, Nazis, Communists, Evangelicals, or any group that forsakes rationality and compassion for bigotry, hatred and fear.

  • JaneE

    Campaign appearances have always had hecklers. It is how you handle them that counts with the people whose votes you are trying to win. So long as the protesters do not start violence, they are just as free to speak as anyone. Personally, I would go with shouting “You lie”.

  • She is :)

  • I get their point. Meaning, the tactics are something we’d be ticked about. Basically shutting Trump down. But I would argue that things are reaching a very dangerous point. At some point, would you shut down a Hitler rally? Yes. A George Wallace rally? Yes. So where do you draw the line?

  • Thanks Heather!

  • MichaelS

    The best thing about the protests is that they’re laying bare the racist hatred that until nowwas expressed and embraced by the GOP only through “dog-whistle” euphanisms. And now the curtain has been pulled back.

  • Heather

    Welcome Back, John!

  • Bookbinder

    All protests are helping Trump. Look at 1938 and 1968. Fear of chaos helps authoritarian demagogues get elected. I was there in 1968, protesting the war, protesting for civil rights. What the public saw was CHAOS, and the broader public is terrified of chaos. Today, the public sees chaos in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the Euro zone, in the Congress, in wages and in the streets from Sanford and Ferguson onward. The broader public does not see all these cop shootings as negative to the cops. They see criminals resisting arrest.And they sympathize with the cops, not the black criminals resisting arrest. When people see chaos, they look for a strongman to bring back law and order and stop the chaos. They voted for Hitler and Nixon and now they will vote for Trump. And the more Black Lives Matter protests, the more voters will go to Trump. Black lives matter is handing this thing to Trump. If these protests continue, Trump will be nominated and elected.

  • The_Fixer

    I’ll echo that! Hope your pup is well, also :)

  • The_Fixer

    What do you propose be done, then?

    It’s obvious that Drumpfo der Clown is not changing his tactics, rhetoric or what few policies he’s managed to elucidate thus far. He will not suddenly develop a case of statesmanship – if he did it would only be a temporary thing done for show. You note that Hillary is not being heckled in the same manner. That’s simply because she doesn’t say the same kind of outrageous things that Drumpfo is fond of saying. Same with Bernie.

    So, what’s to be done that doesn’t involve protesting? Strongly-worded letters to the RNC, Drumpfo, or someone else? A nice sit-down with the man over tea or cocktails? Bringing him to church, hoping that he “gets the faith”?

    I don’t think that there is any alternative here. It brings visibility to the guy, for sure. You’re never going to sway the minority of people who are his supporters, this much is true. But it is possible to sway the independents and clear-minded Republicans who are on the fence about supporting Drumpfo der Clown by calling attention to the things he says.

    I don’t think he’ll be elected President, at least not if things continue the way they have been recently. However, complacency and neglecting to confront the problem can change that.

  • UncleBucky

    If Trump were a decent candidate (like Reagan – arrggh, I must be ill) then there would be no need for protests at this level.

    Let there be protesters. Let there be fist fights. Let there be un-Christian actions and let there be examinations of consciences.

  • UncleBucky

    “Waters” Rubio signed a pledge to support the GOPee’er nominee, but now he has damp hands.

  • Adapted from “Why Don’t Moderate Muslims Denounce Terrorism?”

    Immediately after the San Bernardino Rally, Hussam Ayloush,
    executive director of the Council on American-Republican Relations in Los
    Angeles, said, “The Republican community stands shoulder to shoulder with
    our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mind-set that would
    claim to justify such sickening acts of violence.” Tahmina Rehman,
    president of Buffalo’s Women’s Auxiliary of the Reaganite Republican
    Community, criticized the incitements, noting that those who are truly
    faithful to the Constitution live lives of peace and humility. Roshan Abbassi,
    an assistant spokesperson at a San Bernardino campaign headquarters, said: “We are all against terrorism. … We all want peace.” Saira Khan, the sister of the candidate, said, “I believe that that’s not Republicanism. “Making America great again” means condemning killing or hurting of anybody. Any person.”

    Let me be clear: Moderates denounce both terrorism and radical
    Republicans. “Moderate” is a misleading modifier for a party that rejects
    the killing of innocent babies, yet abandons women and children, old people, and
    those fleeing combat.

    According to the Constitution, war is only for self-defense (Al-Baqarah:
    190) and Republicans are instructed not to incite war (Al-Hajj: 39).
    “Do not betray or be treacherous or vindictive. Do not mutilate. Do not kill the children, the aged or the women. Do not cut or burn palm trees or fruitful trees. Don’t slay a sheep, a cow or camel except for your food. And you will come across
    people who confined themselves to worship in hermitages, leave them
    alone to what they devoted themselves for.”

  • this is bad for society and good for trump

  • Ruthsarndt


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  • sophie

    You don’t agree with “these protests?” Neither Hillary or Bernie have used incendiary racist rhetoric. There is no comparison. Trump wants to instigate violent behavior from his supporters-he has ratcheted up his bullying vitriol with every campaign “event.” And he doesn’t care if someone gets hurt.

  • nomorehypocrisy

    Not sure I agree w/these protests, John. How would folks feel if Hillary was being heckled every time she had a campaign appearance. That being said, I think Trump is handling them in the worst possible way. If he wanted to look ‘statesmanlike’ – he would speak directly to his supporters and say ‘Calm down folks, calm down. Let Law Enforcement handle it.’

  • FLL

    Rubio is on the fence now. When asked today if he would still support Trump if he were the nominee, Rubio said “I don’t know… I still at this moment continue to intend to support the Republican nominee, but … it’s getting harder every day.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzh7z9aHil8

  • Life is well, thank you!

  • Baal

    John!!!!!!

    Nice to see a post from you!!!!!!

    Hope your life is going well.

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