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Donald Trump Has Gone Where No One Has Gone Before
It seems that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has potentially crossed a line that he won't be able to conveniently erase this time. The other day, he seemed to suggest that an assassination attempt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton might be a great idea.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," Trump said of his rival's potential power to appoint Supreme Court judges, according to Guardian (as well as several other news sources). "Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”
For those who may be unaware, the Second Amendment in the United States protects an individual's rights to bear arms, and this apparent ad lib from Trump has sent people reeling, particularly former CBS newsman Dan Rather. The former face of CBS Evening News took to Facebook to unleash his concerns about the vitriolic Republican candidate.
"By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics," Rather wrote, according to USA Today. "This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law. If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?"
Trump's camp has said that their candidate's words was about the power of unification, and that Trump was effectively saying that those who support the Second Amendment would vote in unison for Trump in order to avoid allowing Hillary Clinton the power to appoint judges.
Rolling Stone writer David S. Cohen suggested that what Donald Trump was doing was a form of stochastic terrorism. Stochastic terrorism was described by writer Valerie Tarico, a psychologist, last November following the shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado which left two dead and nine injured.
According to Tarico, stochastic terrorism is a particular form of terrorism which is identified by:
"1. A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
2. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
3. Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past 'purges' against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
4. When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the 'tragedy.'"
To be sure, Trump has regularly demonized all candidates whom he's run against, from "Lyin' Ted" to "Crooked Hillary". Now, though, Trump is treading on even more dangerous ground because regardless of what he claims was meant by his Second Amendment statements, there are sure to be people out there who may think using their Second Amendment rights against Hillary Clinton is a fantastic idea.
Thus far, the Secret Service has only directed questions about the Republican candidate statements back to Donald Trump's camp, but what will happen if someone actually takes Trump seriously? It's not outside the realm of possibility.
The Republican Candidate Donald Trump
Donald Trump - Erratic and Dangerous
It's all well and good to say that the various policies and ideologies that Trump has put on the table is interesting and brings the Republican party back to making America great, but it's the way Donald Trump acts and reacts to almost anything that frightens many, including Canadians north of the border.
Whether it's how he generally appears to treat women (from his Megyn Kelly rants to confronting Democratic rival Hillary Clinton) to how he seems to act when taking on reporters who dare to question him (such as the reporter who had obvious physical challenges) to his feud with the parents of a fallen military soldier (that is wrong and shows no empathy for the family whatsoever), Donald Trump is showing increasingly frightening behavior that is decidedly unpresidential.
Are there times where our leaders do things we disagree with? Absolutely. Do we forget that they are human and therefore are prone to making mistakes? Certainly.
But when it comes to Donald Trump, there appears to be an increasing amount of spin about the candidate's behavior coming out in an effort to recover an image that once seemed a lot sharper than it truly was. There is always spin when it comes to any political campaign, but when a camp is regularly trying to make excuses for their candidate's behavior as the Trump campaign appears to be doing, that should be a signal of a significant problem at hand.
The fact that Trump even sounded like he was suggesting people might want to look to the Second Amendment as a way of "fixing" any issues they might have with Hillary Clinton should be a huge signal that the Republican candidate has something broken within himself. Most people are able to realize when they say something completely inappropriate and backpedal accordingly, especially if their words appear to imply something than was otherwise meant.
Not Donald Trump.
He appeared blissfully unaware that his words would set off a firestorm, and while he seems to be of the belief that all press is good press, he also needs to be aware that threatening fellow candidates - even if he did not mean it - should be an indicator to his supporters that they need to cut bait and run in a big hurry.
It can only be hoped at this point that something intervenes to tell Donald Trump that perhaps he needs to bow out now, before the Republican Party goes down with him.