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Playing Jenga with our democracy

The events of last week have been some of the darkest in recent memory. It feels as if our nation has become unmoored, subjected to inexplicable trauma that is incomparable to anything in our history.

While there is no direct evidence linking Donald Trump’s rhetoric to these recent events, it seems irrefutable, reaching back to the Trump campaign, that there has been an angry, grievance-laden, vitriolic tone to his speeches, often nurtured by his demeanor and incitements and ad hominem attacks. In the aggregate, it feels as if he has given permission to his supporters to express their darkest emotions, emotions often bordering on rage.

Consider the most recent comments by Trump, oft repeated at rallies or on Twitter:

“The Democrats have become an angry and unhinged mob, determined to get power by any means necessary.”

“Democrats want to give illegal immigrants the right to vote. I’ll tell you, we’ll go down fighting for that one.”

“They (the Democrats) want to give them cars, they want to give them driver’s licenses. What kind of car will they supply them? Will it be, a Rolls-Royce?”

“They want to turn America, these Democrats — and that’s what they want — into a giant sanctuary for criminal aliens and the MS-13 killers.”

“Democrats want to abolish America’s borders and allow drugs and gangs to pour into our country unabated.”

“Democrats want to raise your taxes, impose socialism on our country, turn us into Venezuela … take away our health care, destroy your Second Amendment, and Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to deadly drugs and ruthless gangs. Come on in, everybody.”

“The Democrats wanted that caravan and there are those that say that caravan just didn’t happen … a lot of money has been passing to people to come up and try to get to the border by Election Day because they think that’s a negative for us.”

An aside: If fear is the currency of Trump’s message then this caravan from Honduras is a perfect anti-immigrant meme. He has insisted that at the center of that ribbon of desperate humanity are Middle Easterners and terrorists. When asked by a reporter what evidence he had to make such a statement, Trump paused, saying, dismissively, “No proof. No proof.” Mike Pence, when asked, said it was simply logical that “they” would be there.

As well, the Republicans have attempted to link the caravan to the Democratic “mob,” to include those protesters who resisted the Kavanaugh nomination.

And there are also the “false flag” conspiracy theories that appeared soon after the first bomb was discovered in the mailbox of George Soros, Democratic donor. Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage and other conservative radio talk-show hosts, opined that the package bombs were a Democratic operation meant to portray Republicans as violent radicals prior to the upcoming mid-term elections. The bombs were mere props, planted by leftist operatives. Limbaugh suggested that the decals on the bomber’s van appear too new, meaning they were placed there by leftist operatives. This is a dark and disturbing thread adopted by conservatives, moving from the fringes of the far right to mainstream GOP thinking.

Trump, on Twitter, wrote, “Republicans are doing so well in early voting and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows ...” What was of note in this tweet was that bomb was not only capitalized, but put in quotation marks, as if there was linkage to a planned hoax.

Trump then pivoted from conspiracies to the press for causation, tweeting, “A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as the ‘Fake News.’ It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act. FAST!”

“Vrag naroda” (The enemy of the nation/people) — Joseph Stalin

Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.

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