“If any demonstrator ever lays down in front of my car, it’ll be the last car he’ll ever lay down in front of.”
-George Wallace, during a Presidential campaign rally speech, 1968
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very very rough, and when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.”
-Donald Trump, during a Presidential campaign rally speech, 2016
After being introduced, like the rest of the country, to the footage at various Donald Trump Presidential campaign rallies across the state, a few themes of Trump rallies became rather clear. The first would be Trumps enthusiasm toward pushing a tougher, more violent America. He has urged supporters to punch protesters, has promised legal protection and representation, and calls the violence and anger exciting. He has been traveling the nation, inciting already angry masses, to the point of violence toward protesters on several occasions. He’s used strong rhetoric to push this anger to a breaking point, and makes zero apologies.
Currently, at least one Trump supporter has been arrested for violence against protesters, and his own campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is under investigation for assault of a reporter. Trump has barely acknowledged the supporter incident, while turning around and calling the allegedly assaulted reporter a liar who was making a story up. Never before has a campaign reacted so repugnantly toward accusations against their camp as the Trump campaign has, not only denying the allegations, but set out to launch a massive online assault on the alleged victim in the hours following the allegation. Not even hours after the story broke, before charges were even filed, the Trump campaign went to work to destroy a young female reporter.
All of this anger, protest, and criminal activity in the form of assault is scary enough to be occurring in a Presidential election, but the message coming out of Trump’s rallies should be downright scary and disturbing to people. He paints protest and protesters as the enemy, both of the supporters and the country. He makes statements to clearly divide the protesters from the rest of the country, and labels them as dangerous, low value people. He turns his supporters against protesters, but not just any protesters – a certain kind. Out of all the different quotes encouraging violence and hatred toward those who disagree with him and his campaign, a few stand out as frighteningly disturbing:
” I love the old days. You know what they used to do with guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very very rough, and when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today they walk in and they put their hand up and they put the wrong finger up at everybody, and they get away with murder because we’ve become weak.”
“You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is that nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, and they’re being politically correct with the way they take them out. So it takes a little bit longer. And honestly protesters, they realize it, they realize that there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences, there are none anymore. So that’s it. Our country has to toughen up, folks. It has to toughen up.”
All of these quotes are taken straight from Trump’s mouth, at his speeches. All of these quotes talk about the “old days” when protesters were treated horribly and faced consequences, when protesters were beaten up and taken out on stretchers. Protesters who were practicing their 1st Amendment right, who are allowed that right just as much Trump is allowed to stand up and speak hate. But, Trump is doing more than just targeting protesters here. He’s targeting races. Think about it – think back in the “good old days,” when protesters were treated badly, and roughed up, and were faced with consequences of protesting. When, in our American history, have we seen protests that have led to punishment, poor treatment, and consequence of exercising their right to protest? You don’t have to look back far – and it was a pretty scary time in our American past.
The Civil Rights era in the 60’s had massive protests and demonstrations of African Americans taking to streets, staging sit-ins, and other non-violent forms of protests that yielded horrible treatment. Police forces turned fire hoses on them, sicced dogs on them, sometimes beat them or stood idly by while they were beaten. Opposition to Civil Rights movements kidnapped, killed, and lynched them. Yes, we had a moment in our history – back in the Trump-cited “good old days” where protesters in this country were treated horribly, often with severe consequence. These are the good old days that Trump is referencing, and he’s doing it primarily in the south, and in cities and states that have tense race relations.
In essence, Trump is inciting a race war.
This is an eerily similar platform used by 1964/68 Presidential candidate George Wallace, a strong segregationis Democrat. He used hateful rhetoric to turn his supporters against protests occurring during that time. He spoke out about severely hurting protesters – once making a threat to run over them in his car, and made zero apology about it. He pushed this strong rhetoric in the deep, segregation friendly south. And, not surprisingly, he had strong support and following in the same southern states that Trump is currently striking gold in. Here, take a look:
I know these are strong words to compare Trump’s current campaign to a racist segregationist Democrat’s campaign in the 60’s, but you don’t have to take my word for it. You can take the word of his former staff during his Presidential campaigns, or his own family members. Here are a few comparisons:
“There are a great deal of similarities as it relates to their style and political strategies,” said Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy. “The two of them, they have adopted the notion that fear and hate are the two greatest motivators of voters. Those voters that feel alienated from the government. Those voters tend to make decisions based on an emotional level rather than intellectual.”
“They both can draw a crowd and work up a crowd,” she said. “My father was a very fiery and emotional speaker and was able to tap into the fears of the poor and working-class white people. American voters are looking for a leader who can fight first, rather fight first then seek rational solutions.”
“One of my father’s presidential campaign themes was ‘Stand up for America’, and Trump’s is ‘Make America Great Again.’ Well the message does not suggest how you do that. It just reminds us that the average Joe who thinks America is in the dumpster, which I feel it is not. But they make you think that it is,” she said.
“He’s very similar to George Wallace in a lot of ways,” said Wallace’s 1968 campaign executive director Tom Turnipseed. “Both of them use a lot of the same kind of scare tactics and fear.”
“Their style is a lot alike,” (Wallace’s wife) said. “They’re both very charismatic. Their rhetoric is really powerful, and they don’t really talk that much about solutions, but the fear and anxiety.”
“And when he was in California, a group of anarchists lay down in front of his automobile and threatened his personal safety. The president of the United States,” he said of another protester. “Well I wanna tell you, if you elect me president of the United States and I go to California, or I come to Arkansas, and some of them lie down in front of my automobile it’ll be the last one they ever want to lie down in front of.”
“I don’t know that Wallace ever had much to say what he was gonna do about things,” she continued. “Just, ‘the federal government,’ ‘the pointy headed liberals’ were trying to tell us what to do, and we were gonna stand up for ourselves and stand up for America. That kind of thing.”
“Another thing that I think is similar is that, a lot of people are saying that Trump is saying out loud what people are thinking,” she added. “They really said that about Wallace. That he articulated what people were thinking. And a lot of people are saying that’s what they like about Trump. That Trump says out loud what lots of people are thinking and don’t have enough courage to say. I’ve heard that a lot of times and that’s one of the common things that people said about Wallace.”
Ironically, his daughter could point out one stark difference between her horridly racist, segregationist father and Trump, which actually makes Trump look bad.
“I think my father had more self-restraint and respect for the institutions of government than Trump does,” she said. “I think my father understood the limitation of the executive branch of government, where I don’t think Trump does. And I think Daddy, even though he used coded language to use racial themes, he never attacked a culture based on their religion and race. He used coded language to suggest the racial themes. But he never specifically attacked a group of people based on their religion and their race. And I think Daddy had a respect for the process and the candidates. A great respect for the process and especially the process. He would have never leveled vicious attacks on the other candidates, especially those have been so personal. Daddy never would have done that.”
Mr. George Wallace, who left a terrible, hateful legacy in his political tenure, and later spoke up to apologize about the part he played in being harmful for America, was more restrained in his hatred. He respected the process of government. Two things Trump clearly has no respect for, as shown with his labeling of minorites and Muslims as terrible groups, as well as his clear disrespect for political debates and candidates. Imagine that, guys. George Wallace wasn’t as bad as Trump, in his inciteful and prejudice mannerisms. I wonder if Donald Trump has had the opportunity to read some of his comparisons to Wallace, and has seen that he’s deemed as a person with worse character than a man who left a legacy of racism.