At 2:30 am last night I woke up from what probably was a nightmare, although I’m not entirely sure. In my dream I heard a group of Trump supporters out on the street, banging garbage cans with baseball bats or just pieces of metal and wood, while rhythmically chanting: “Trump for President, Trump for President.” When I got up and looked out of the window I saw a group of students from the local college, where I teach, returning to the campus two blocks from my apartment after some serious drinking. They were noisy, but there were no political chants, although it is of course possible that they briefly had a pro-Trump outburst, out of conviction or just for fun. Either way, whether it was the students’ behavior or a nightmare, it’s a symptom of what’s going on in the US today. Trump has tapped into the large reservoir of disgruntled white ‘lumpen’ who have been groomed for his campaign in more than thirty years of ideological hegemony by the Republican Party, laced with xenophobia and racism. At his rally at the University of Illinois things finally got out of hand last night, to the point where the event had to be canceled because the campaign feared for violence between protesters and supporters.
As I write this a Trump rally in Dayton, Ohio, is about to start, and all the media talk is about whether the candidate will assume any responsibility for the increasing aggressiveness of his followers. At recent events, however, Trump has declared that he would like to ‘punch a protester in the face,’ and that ‘in the old days’ protesters would have been ‘carried out on a stretcher.’ He also urged his supporters to ‘knock the crap’ out of protesters and promised to pay their legal fees if they did, which was followed by a 78 year old white Trump supporter sucker punching a young black protester. Given his recent rhetoric it is to be expected that Trump will double down on the violent talk and that as a result there will be more serious incidents, and not only at his rallies. It’s just what the US needs with over three hundred million guns already in circulation. For those in the GOP leadership who still have a minimal sense of responsibility none of the possible scenarios that will be unfolding in the near future is very attractive, but they’ll have to steer their party in a direction in which the damage, both in the US and internationally, is minimized, and that means do everything they can to keep Trump out of the White House.
There are four initial scenarios: 1. Trump wins the nomination outright, in which case GOP dissidents will have to field a third party candidacy or endorse the Democratic nominee; 2. Trump enters a contested convention with the largest number of delegates but is denied the nomination; 3. Trump enters a contested convention with a number of delegates more or less similar to that of one other candidate, who becomes the nominee; 4. Another candidate has more delegates than Trump and is nominated.
At this point, scenarios one and two are much more likely to unfold than scenarios three and four, and in scenario two, three and four the Republican Party risks losing a significant part of Trump’s electorate, something the party elders will probably be happy to accept if Ted Cruz becomes the GOP nominee, because they don’t want to see him any more as US President than the Donald.
In the meantime Trump started his speech in Dayton. He just urged his followers to throw out a protester, and then started ranting that protesters take away his and his followers’ first amendment rights and therefore deserve to be beaten up. God help us if that fascist buffoon isn’t stopped as soon as possible.