Monday, August 31, 2020

Violence and Violence


The election could well turn on which candidate does a more compelling job of defining the nature of the violence now plaguing cities from Kenosha to Portland.

For Trump, the violence is the fault of radical protesters who are no better than common criminals, and who are representative of what Joe Biden stands for. "You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America," as Mike Pence told the RNC, is the mantra.

What’s clear, of course, is that Trump promotes the violence, eggs on right-wing provocateurs and out-of-control cops, and hopes that the left will respond in kind. In the general chaos and definitional confusion that ensues, he stands for law and order.

Trump’s definition of events doesn’t fool most people who are not already part of his hardcore base. But it needs to fool only a few swing voters in key swing states. The pictures of violence, and the occasional far-left agitator welcoming the clashes, may give a few queasy suburban moderates the permission they need to vote for Trump.

On Sunday, Biden put out a strong statement condemning violence whether of the left or the right, and saying of Trump: "He may believe tweeting about law and order makes him strong—but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is."

But the violence of the left and the right is far from symmetrical. Ever since 2016, Trump and his storm troopers have been escalating the violence and engaging in hate-killings that Trump foments and then excuses.


It is Trump’s America where people don’t feel safe. Biden, speaking today in Pittsburgh, nailed that. "This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence—because for years he has fomented it," Biden said. "Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?"

~ ROBERT KUTTNER

  

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