Donald Trump has called protesters at his event disruptive, troublemakers, bad people, violent. He’s called them jobless, taunted them for being a minority, accused them of being bullies, and other harsh words. He calls them this not because they are really disruptive, or troublemakers, or anything else, but simply because they disagree with him. Because they don’t want him to run for President, or be the Republican nominee.
We’ve seen enough videos of Trump rallies to see the atmosphere. It’s energized, loud, people yelling and screaming, holding up signs, and chanting during his speeches. It’s not uncommon for supporters to yell out and scream in support of Trump while he’s talking. Peole get fired up. It’s not a quiet tea party, where or a movie theater where everyone is cautioned to be quiet while he speaks. So, really, a protester yelling or holding a sign is doing nothing different from his supporters. They are not being disruptive in their actions.
In the first few months of the Republican Presidential primary race, this is what the protesters did. They did not organize numbers; they appeared individually, or in small handfuls – just as the Trump supporters did. They brought signs and worse shirts that showed their dissent, just as supporters brought signs and wore shirts (and hats) of support. There is not one single action that any protesters took part in that wasn’t done by supporters. They were just saying something a little different than the crowd.
How is that a disruption? How is someone yelling at a crowd full of people yelling? Someone holding a sign in a crowd of people holding signs? How is it any different from protesters that do the same at other Primary rallies for other candidates? The message. The dissent. The showing that this citizen disagrees with what you have to say. There’s nothing more to it. There’s nothing bigger, on the protesters side. The problem is, actually, with the supporters at the Trump rallies across the nation. Here’s a quick video clip of two protesters at an event in January:
These were the protests early on in the campaign. That’s how it started. This is just one video, but there are plenty more out there to show exactly what’s shown here. A few people, randomly scattered about, holding signs. Not punching anyone. Not getting in people’s faces. Not doing anything differently than the crowd around them. And what caused the disruption in this video? The Trump supporters that sat in the crowd around these two protesters. They called them names, told them to shut up, ostracized them, and tore their signs. The supporters pointed them out and called for the removal. Because they disagreed. And in this video, they were being nice.
The issue with this is twofold – these images caused protesters to begin to organize and form groups, and the Trump rhetoric concerning those who disagreed with them grew more virulent. The first part of the issue has grown into what we see now – hundreds, if not thousands, of organized protests occurring at Trump rallies. There’s a reason for that – safety in numbers. What was once a regular showing at any political event has become threatening and violent, primarily because the supporters have no tolerance for dissent, and Trump preaches that ideology further.
The second part of that issue should make us all pause, and really listen to the things Trump says about these protesters. We’ll move beyond the issue of free speech and right to protest. Instead, we’ll focus on the needs, and utter sense of urgency to remove any and all aspects of dissent at Trump rallies in this campaign, who those protesters represent, and why Trump’s rhetoric to his adoring fanbase (let’s face it, these are people more star struck with the celebrity and the brand than the politician) should offend us all.
First of all, the amount of intolerance that Trump and his supporters have for dissent is troubling. There’s no discussion or discourse of why you should give me a chance by Trump, or why Trump is the better candidate by his fans. There’s simply intolerance for anyone that disagrees. It’s not the protesters – it’s the message that is so intolerable to Trump and his fanbase. The absolute refusal to think there is another way, or another idea outside of what comes out of Trump’s mouth. Trump’s created this isolation free from dissent that creates a general intolerance and disbelief for anything negative associated with Trump – both inside and out of the rallies.
The reason why this is disturbing, and the reason why this should worry us all is that the protesters at these rallies are a symbol of every person that doesn’t feel Trump is fit to hold the high office. We’ve seen the early protests – it wasn’t because they were acting up or being disruptive. They weren’t. Their simple existence at the rally is what causes the disturbance and disruption at the rallies. There’s a zero-tolerance for any dissent zone within those boundaries. Any one of us could head off to one of these events, and run the risk of being ostracized and shoved out, or even assaulted, if we dare speak our mind.
This is the culture Trump is creating. When he states the protesters are disruptive, are trouble makers, are bad people and not what makes this country – not a part of the culture that built this country, he is speaking that about all of us who disagree with him. He’s calling us all names. He’s saying we’re all what is wrong with America , because we disagree with him. He’s creating a veritable lynch mob out of his fans, who feel every bit entitled to not just disagree with anyone that doesn’t support Trump, but to call those people names, harrass them, and disparage them out in society.
We’ve seen it – on message boards, in public, and certainly at the Trump rallies. Trump has created an army whose motto is us against them. And that them is the rest of the population that disagrees. Trump is attacking the general population with these words and with these calls to get rough, and to treat others as the enemy – friends, family, community members, all of them the enemy because of dissent. How will that ever work out on the national scale?
And really, let’s break down the numbers. For the voting population so far, there have been almost 21 million voters that have taken part in the Primary elections thus far, all parties combined, and we’re just hitting the halfway point. Out of these almost 21 million voters in this country, less than 21% of the entire voting population has shown up to vote for him. That’s over 79% that chose someone else. Now, maybe you are thinking that measuring it this way is a little unfair, since the primaries are split by party, but it’ really reflective of the actual support Trump has.
If we want to take a look at the Republican numbers, it’s not head over heels better, and it’s certainly not close to any overwhelming majority. out of the almost 13 million voters who have shown up to vote in the Republican primary, that number is less than 35% total support, as opposed to more than 65% opposition. The delegate count, based on numerous factors other than a proportional split, tell a different story, but the actual support hasn’t really grown over the past several weeks. It won’t grow, either. Not by percentage of the popular vote.
So we have an overwhelming majority of Americans and Republicans that have said, no thank you to Trump at the booth, yet he continues to spew this divisive and hateful rhetoric against dissent. All of us, guys, not just the protesters. The protesters are just making an appearance. Trump is creating an army of hate against anyone that disagrees with him, and we’ve all seen this in one way or another. There is no attempt to even try to unite or try to see the other side – it’s a bolsterous, bullying campaign that states my way or you’re the enemy.
That’s the troubling factor coming out of all these protests, and the way that protesters and dissenters of Trump’s platform are being treated. That is how Trump feels about those who don’t agree with his vision. That’s not democracy, it’s demagoguery. That’s the approach used by dictators and authoritarian leaders. That’s Trump tellling a small population of this country that the majority is the enemy. We need to move beyond this narrow scope of how Trump and his fanbase are specifically treating the protesters and recognize what it means for all of us. His hate isn’t geared simply toward protesters – it’s geared toward dissent.