So now it’s come to revolution?
The 2016 election has taken so many twists and turns, it’s probably inevitable that we’d end up with self-identified Donald Trump supporters telling reporters for The New York Times that — if their guy loses to Hillary Clinton — there may be a revolution.
And it’s clear they meant the guns-and-bullets kind, too. There’s no small amount of irony that the guy now heading the Republican Party could end up touching off a new civil war while the party’s original nominee spent his entire presidency fighting to end one.
Yet AlterNet reports a new survey finds one in six Americans is considering buying a gun before Election Day. (A web search finds helpful, news-you-can-use articles such as “five guns to buy before election 2016” and “what gun should I buy before the election?”) A USA Today/Suffolk University poll found 51 percent expressing at least some concern about the possibility of violence on Election Day, although most say they’re confident the country will still have a peaceful transition of power.
Among Trump supporters, however, more than 40 percent say they won’t recognize the legitimacy of a Clinton victory, on the theory that she will not have obtained the White House in a fair election.
Where could they possibly have heard that idea?
Jared Halbrook told The Times that a Clinton victory (again, presumably engineered) could lead to another Revolutionary War. “People are going to march on the capitols,” he said. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.”
Paul Swick, a self-described “Bible Christian,” told The Times he worries about the Second Amendment. “If she comes after the guns, it’s going to be a rough, bumpy road,” he said. “I hope to God I never have to fire a round, but I won’t hesitate to. As a Christian, I want reformation. But sometimes, reformation comes through bloodshed.”
Ah, yes, who can forget the immortal words of Jesus Christ, who said, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also … and then smite him with thine Glock!”
But it’s not just theology about which Swick is confused, at least if he’s really worried about Clinton coming for his guns. President Barack Obama believes in reasonable gun restrictions, but he never came to take away people’s weapons. Gun makers sold millions of firearms during the Obama years to people paranoid about losing their rights. The gun lobby should send the president a fruit basket!
But let’s be clear about something: When people talk about revolution, they’re really talking about armed resistance to legitimately constituted government authority. At whom would poor, deluded Paul Swick fire his rounds? A U.S. Marine guarding the White House? A Secret Service special agent? A police officer? Because that’s who these would-be armed insurrectionists would be targeting if they ever found the courage to act on their tough talk. And for what? Unsupported, unproven and false allegations of voter fraud offered to explain how the guy with the winning temperament lost a national election?
Nobody should be surprised that when you tap into the anger, frustration and wilted nostalgia of voters yearning for simpler times, portraying your political opponents not as decent people with contrary ideas but corrupt election stealers with malevolent intent, repeatedly telling them the whole system is rigged and its outcomes cannot be trusted, you get violent rhetoric as a result. It’s to Trump’s everlasting shame that he feels seemingly no responsibility for lighting the fuse on that particular bomb and then walking away to enjoy the spectacle.
As Batman’s butler Alfred once said, some men just want to watch the world burn.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.