Donald Trump is not unique in wanting to “bomb the sh*t” out of the Islamic State. He is not unique in wanting to appoint Supreme Court justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges. He is not unique in having a tax plan whose math can best be described as “negative a few trillion plus ??? equals zero.”
In most substantive respects, Donald Trump’s campaign is a carbon copy of traditional Republican campaigns. The platform, the logic and the rhetoric used to sell it are all remarkably similar.
What’s made Trump’s campaign different has been its tenor and tone. Specifically, it has at times been overtly pro-violence. Earlier this week, after months of Trump telling his supporters that he’d “like to punch [protestors] in the face,” and that “in the good ol’ days” you could just “knock the crap out of of” people who caused a ruckus at your events, a white supporter sucker punched a black protestor while he was being escorted out of a Trump event. Asked about the protestor on his way out of the event, the assailant (who was only arrested later in the day, unlike the protestor who was arrested on the spot) said, “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
Asked about this and other incidents of violence at his events, Donald Trump condoned his supporters’ actions:
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Notice how fast Trump went from “I hope not” to “We have some protestors who are bad dudes”? Big, strong, powerful, (black) dudes? And all it took was for Jake Tapper to remind Trump that, despite his false hopes, he has in fact advocated for violence at his rallies — in one case promising to pay for the legal fees of anyone who assaulted protestors.
Trump: I don't condone violence.
Tapper: There is violence.
Trump: They deserve it.
— Daniel Radosh (@danielradosh) March 11, 2016
Trump may have to make good on that promise to cover the legal fees of people who commit assault in his name, as his campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski, is now the defendant in a legal complaint made by Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. Fields, in a story corroborated by the Washington Post’s Ben Terris, was forcibly removed from Trump’s orbit by Lewandowski during a press scrum. According to Terris, Lewandowski grabbed Fields and dragged her back hard enough to leave bruises on Fields’s arm.
Asked about the incident after last night’s debate, Trump suggested that Fields made the entire story up. Lewandowski, for his part, has insisted she’s lying — but only after reportedly telling another journalist that he did in fact grab her…because he thought she was a member of the “mainstream media.” In other words, if he had known that Fields worked for Breitbart, a Trump-friendly outlet, none of this would have happened.
I don’t like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, but I trust that if either of their campaign managers admitted to assaulting a reporter, they’d be fired. Hell, Cruz has already fired a member of his senior staff for insinuating that Marco Rubio made a bad joke about the Bible. But as far as Donald Trump is concerned, his supporters and his staff are blameless. Victims of those who commit violence in his name either don’t exist or have it coming. Or both.
That’s unique, and that’s dangerous.