As someone who has written about political correctness and domestic politics, I have a strong opinion about the disrupted Trump rally in Chicago last night. It’s truly fascinating how different the coverage of the event is. On MSNBC, the message is that Trump’s divisive, aggressive rhetoric triggered this outrage and protest. On Fox, Hannity bemoaned the “Bernie plants” and the censorship of Trump and his supporters. Unsurprisingly, given my political leanings, I’m much more sympathetic to the MSNBC take for two reasons.
First, this kind of mass disruption simply doesn’t occur at other Republican rallies, and it didn’t occur to McCain in 2008 or Romney in 2012. In other words, there is no other example of the Left deliberately trying to censor or shut down conservative campaign events or rallies. Now, I’m on the record as saying that the Left is far too sensitive and unwilling to listen to views they disagree with, but they have not gotten to the point of blocking conservative politician’s right to speak to their own supporters. Even relative conservative extremists like Ted Cruz have been left alone. Cruz’s views are, to many liberals, repugnant and misguided. However, Cruz is a substantive candidate with ideas based on some degree of coherence and logic. While liberals might vehemently disagree with him, most of them, at least, respect that his policy solutions are more nuanced than “we’ll win” or “we’ll make better deals.” If the Trump disruption truly heralded the end of free speech, I would expect to see much more disruption of all conservative groups, not just Trump.
Second, Democratic candidates have also been disrupted. Bernie Sanders, for example, had his microphone stolen by Black Lives Matter protesters a few months ago. If this was just an organized left-wing conspiracy, it makes no sense that the most left-leaning, progressive candidate running for president would also be subject to disruption from protestors. In short, pretending that the Trump protestors were all secret left-wing plants is silly.
Trump is not disrupted because the DNC orders their goons to go after him. He is not disrupted because he is a Republican. He is not disrupted because he actually is not a Republican and the Republican establishment is trying to shut him down. No. Trump is being protested because his statements are inflammatory and racist. He is incoherent and offers nothing specific. He deals in fear, hatred, and anger instead of in hope and solutions. When you run a campaign on those messages, you will elicit an angry, fearful response both from your supporters and your critics. The other candidates are shielded from these kinds of demonstrations because their campaigns are based on civility, actual policy, and respect. Cruz and Bernie may not agree on anything, but they also don’t order their followers to assault and attack anyone who disagrees. Kasich famously brought a pro-Bernie heckler down to the stage and engaged him, making jokes and being friendly. Instead of calling for violence and aggression, he masterfully deescalated the situation and was respectful. If Trump were as civil as everyone else, I sincerely doubt his rallies would be so plagued by violence. His supporters blame everyone else for last night’s disaster, but they have nobody to blame but themselves and their candidate. Simply put, what goes around comes around.