Tipping Point?

In my last post, I made the case that we all bear responsibility for Trump. The natural corollary is that we all bear responsibility for fixing this.

But how?

Since that post on March 5, I believe things have gotten worse, culminating in a man punching a protester in the face as he was leaving a rally. Oh, and the police threw the victim on the ground. Oh, and the puncher said next time he’ll do worse. Oh, and Trump yesterday said that he might pay the punchers legal fees, which is making good on a campaign promise. The protester, he said, “was sticking a certain finger up in the air. And that is a terrible thing to do in front of somebody that frankly wants to see America made great again.”

I don’t need to recite the litany of violence coming from this man’s mouth, or from the mouths of his supporters. Thanks to the ubiquity of cell phones, the evidence is everywhere.

My question today is: What is the best way to respond?

If, as Albert Einstein wrote in 1953, “the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it,” what are we to do?

In Chicago, thousands of supporters led to rally cancellation. This seems to have led to all sorts of disinformation and escalation.

The rubber hit the road for me this weekend when Trump visited my fair city. A big protest was organized and my teenage daughter asked me to take her. After watching the news and monitoring social media, I have become increasingly convinced that the violence will continue to grow and sooner rather than later, someone is going to be killed.

My answer to my daughter was one syllable – no.

The rally in our town ended up being without violence but people I know who went could feel the heat.

But the question I’m left with – does taking a stand necessarily involve responding in a confrontational way? I don’t mean to knock the protesters, the vast majority of whom are committed to peace, but simply showing up there can be seen as confrontational.

Or was MLK right when he said that only love can drive out hatred?

Talk among my friends now seems to follow the same lines these days when we talk about our nation. Some level of hatred has been unleashed – this toothpaste is not going back in the tube.

I continue to believe that Trump will not be elected. I have questioned whether I am operating from a warped perspective. I know the media stands to benefit from a 24/7 circus and in absolute numbers, Trump supporters are a sliver.

But it only takes one or two angry folks to really mess things up.

After Trump is gone, where will all that anger go?

I wonder if we have arrived at some tipping point, where we finally realize what we have lost in this country — a sense of common good — and start to walk it back from the cliff?

I think we each need to carefully consider — what is my role?

8 thoughts on “Tipping Point?”

  1. Judge Nap summarizes 1st Amendment and property rights issues in play at campaign events:


    Essentially, responsibility depends on whether speaker actually incites protesters or whether protesters attend to shut a speaker down.

    A ‘heckler’s veto’ that seeks to silence a speaker is not allowed. Those people are subject to removal or even arrest.

    Venue for campaign event (e.g., privately funded or in public domain) influences the matter also. Speaker and crowd supporters garner more legal support in private context, protesters have more in public domain.

    1. To me, that’s not the issue. The venom coming from this campaign and some of its supporters is reprehensible. Flat out morally wrong. That’s all that matters.

      1. Certainly you realize that ‘venom’ spewing from other campaigns is also perceived by some as morally reprehensible. The law takes front and center because one of its purposes is to protect political speech against the imposition of a particular view of morality thru use of aggression (e.g., disrupting campaign rallies).

        1. I’d love to hear comparable examples. There’s a reason people are protesting Trump and not the other candidates. And it ain’t because they’re upset about his policy proposals.

  2. I find it very interesting that Trump has managed to raise so much interest and support with the lack of a viable campaign. However his support does show how much of a split exists in the republican party between the traditional leaders and those who feel over promised and under served who want/need something new. The so called party leaders are trying to build a campaign against Trump but I think they are ignoring their real problem. And no I would not have let my daughter go to a Trump rally either.

    1. I think the GOP is toast, but they are simply reaping what they’ve sown. The dissatisfaction with business as usual isn’t isolated to them though – Bernie’s campaign is very viable.

  3. Back in the early 90s, I married a fella known as Mod. Young and broke, we had a brief, inexpensive honeymoon in northern Wisconsin. We read the papers and realized that some folks were shipped in from Kansas to protest at abortion clinics at Milwaukee. So we went, because we had friends there, one of whom worked for Planned Parenthood. We weren’t protesters, we were “clinic defence.” There were way more of us than there were of them. Our job was to let women get into the clinic without interference. We locked arms. We sang songs like “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” The small group of protesters had giant wood crosses, and were kind of creepy. One lady waved her toddler in our face saying, “these people wanted me to kill you”. We sang “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” But they never swore at us or threatened us, or vice-versa. Each night, our friend’s parents made dinner for us, told stories, got us tipsy on way better booze than we could afford.

    Being there meant something to us, as I’m sure it did to others on both sides. In retrospect, it all seems so innocent and–dare I say it–safe. Trump is capitalizing on and bringing out a far more divisive side of people than I’ve seen in a long time. And I’ve been to my share of “protests.” I would have taken my daughter to the Planned Parenthood clinic in the summer of ’92. But I’d think a lot harder about it today. You’re right, good people can’t stand aside and do nothing. I’m not accustomed to a world where I could be injured or killed for acting responsibly on my beliefs. And I don’t know if I trust others–or myself–to act responsibly in the current environment.

    1. Haha at your opening line, Nancy. I’m doing my best to stop calling him Mod, but it really is the best nickname ever.

      Yes, a story like that sounds quaint and that’s scary. I’m glad you had such an interesting honeymoon and I think you should come back here and straighten us all out. 🙂

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