WHY WE FAILED WHEN PROTESTING DONALD TRUMP
by Tim Danahey
Rarely is a political campaign littered with such questionable characters as we are experiencing today. No matter your political point of view, there is someone certain to assault your sensibilities. However, there is one candidate who has antagonized almost every demographic except his core followers. That person is Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has insulted and disparaged people of various faiths and races in multiple statements. He has proposed solutions to imaginary problems that are unconstitutional, inhumane, and unworkable. He is unapologetic and belligerent when confronted. His public persona is not Presidential and is generally unlikable.
He is so unlikable that many protesters have mobilized to disrupt his rallies in places such as Chicago, Kansas City, and Dayton. They have entered Trump’s venues, shouted him down, and even forced the cancellation of an appearance.
And the protesters were wrong. And it will ultimately hurt their objectives. Here’s why:
We’ve given him an expanded media platform. We’ve taken what should have been a contained and largely ignored hate virus and turned it into a media epidemic. An unlikable man’s unrealistic political platform has turned into the same ridiculous show as a pay per view wrestling event.
The protesters have turned Donald Trump and his acolytes into victims. The protesters have the right to protest in public spaces – and they should. He is detestable. However, when the protesters entered what is essentially a privately arranged venue for a political candidate to express his repugnant views in order to shout him down and prevent him from speaking, they have violated Trump’s right to speak to his followers. The protester’s have denied his rights and he can now play the victim to galvanize current support and attract new followers.
Trump can now make wild accusations that the protesters were organized, financed, and supporters of Bernie Sanders. This gives Trump the ability to control the debate without discussing substantive issues. Bernie Sanders has to be defensive and deny involvement and that is not the position you want your candidate to face.
The degeneration of shouting protests into sporadic violence presents a graphic that will sway undecided voters toward Trump rather than away from him. Unaligned observers will simply see violence arising from protesters at a Trump event. There will be no analysis of cause and effect and who started what. It’s just violence that was allowed because a few well-intentioned protesters tried to disrupt Trump’s gathering. Violence does not work. The right wing understands that and effectively planted hooligans to cause violence against police in the Occupy movement. That story didn’t make the news because the four-minute news segments focused on the visuals without investigating the real story. Nonetheless, the Occupy movement collapsed when the right wing seeded it with hooligans and diluted it with the homeless population. The right will do it again to undermine the left in this Presidential election now that the seed of violence has been planted.
Trump could ultimately fall on his own swords of ego, pomposity, and undeveloped thinking. However, if protesters are not willing to let that happen, then they should protest more creatively and peacefully. T-shirts with “I Turn My Back on Hate” and simply turning away from Trump when he speaks would be far more effective. Plus,it allows spontaneous participation that shouting and violence do not allow. Others can turn their backs when Trump speaks. It would be silently effective.
This is no treatise on how to protest. The best protests are those that are planned and allowed to grow organically. Each cause, each community, and each individual are far more creative than I am. However, canceling a political rally is not a victory. Inciting violence is not a winning tactic. Creating a victim will not inspire others to your cause. Hate will not triumph on either side. We are above that.
One note for future protesters: Jimmy Carter has said that if presented with the choice of Donald Trump or Cruz, he would pick Trump. Why? He said Trump is malleable and willing to compromise to achieve results. Carter says Cruz is an inflexible ideologue which would make a dangerous President. There are more dangerous candidates than Trump. Trump is just the person the media wants to destroy now. The worst may be yet to come.