It's a rare day when Charlie Pierce and Power Line's John Hinderaker agree on something, but they agree that continued violent protest against Donald Trump will probably put him in the White House. Here's Hinderaker, from a post titled "Electing Trump, One Riot at a Time":
Last night in Albuquerque, rioters attacked a Donald Trump rally. Several tried to disrupt the event and had to be removed from the crowd. Most remained outside, throwing rocks at the hall and burning objects at policemen....
Liberals will try to imply that violence by anti-Trump rioters is somehow Trump’s fault, but they can’t sell that theory. Most people dislike riots and rioters just as much today as they did in 1968. Trump has risen to the top of the political heap in large part because of the enemies he has made. During the primaries, the more he was denounced by liberal reporters, the more votes he got. The same will happen in the general election if voters see that he is besieged by left-wing rioters.
Hinderaker, of coursed, would be pleased at that outcome. Pierce, not so much:
What happened in Albuquerque Tuesday night not only was pointless, it was utterly stupid. It gave the campaign of He, Trump enough footage to create campaign ads all the way through his re-election campaign in 2020. It gave cable news a chance to monger some fear; by midnight, the CNN reporter on the scene was practically begging the cops to unleash hell on the people "who won't go home." It turned He, Trump into a victim....
One of the most important ways to defeat He, Trump is to be smarter than he is. That shouldn't be difficult but, so far, it's eluded the other Republican contenders, and the Clinton campaign, and the people who show up at his rallies who can't seem to understand that, by doing so, they become part of the show.
Stay across the street. Protest silently and, in the name of god, don't be such easy marks.
But I'm sticking with what I said in the last post: Violent protest makes Trump seem like the candidate who's courting chaos. If we're all going to look back on 1968, let's recall that the winner of that year's election was the candidate whose campaign wasn't associated with violent protest in the public mind. The Republican convention that year wasn't comparable to Chicago, which became a millstone around Hubert Humphrey's neck. And the candidate who finished third had a Trump-like habit of courting violence at his rallies:
“The confrontation with the hecklers became a highly stylized feature of every Wallace rally,” writes Lloyd Rohler in his book George Wallace: Conservative Populist. “Violence seemed always to be lurking in the background and it frequently burst forth.” At a Wallace rally on October 29 in Detroit, reported the Chicago Tribune, “wild, chair-swinging violence erupted” as “Wallace supporters and some of several thousand hecklers clashed, first with fists and then with folding chairs … Wallace supporters struck handcuffed hecklers as they were being led away by police, who did not interfere.”
The winner of that year's election was the guy fraudulently claiming that he'd govern as a healer, the one who said he had a secret plan to end a divisive war, the one whose campaign cynically took its slogan from a sign held up at a rally: "Bring Us Together."
Voters wanted to believe that Richard Nixon would calm troubled waters. Donald Trump doesn't even want voters to believe he'll bring calm -- he clearly wants to butt heads with everyone who looks at him crosswise. Some percentage of the country wants that, but I don't think it will be a majority.
I could be wrong and Charlie Pierce could be right -- he usually is. But in a country where even partisans say they hate partisanship and want compromise, I'm not sure being the candidate associated with violent unrest is a successful strategy.
The wild card here is whether Hillary Clinton gets yoked to violence by the planned Sanderspalooza outside the Democratic convention. Organizers of the planned pro-Bernie protests say they'll be peaceful. We'll have to wait and see how that works out.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog