By Sharon Jones
The last several days have seen a lot of Republican scapegoating for the Chicago protests that canceled the scheduled Trump rally. It seems it is anyone’s fault as long as they aren’t part of the Republican Party.
Donald Trump blamed Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Marco Rubio started out implying Donald Trump but finally settled on it being President Obama’s fault. Fox News has blamed MoveOn.org and conspiracy theorists are laying the blame at the feet of their anti-Christ, George Soros. Every one of them called the protests an attack on free speech that was planned by someone.
Politicians always have to blame someone else except when they are caught red handed and then they still might blame someone else. Now the Republican Party is being caught red handed in creating the rise of Donald Trump and the violence he brings. Increasingly dividing, inflammatory and juvenile rhetoric are causing the American public to react in ways not seen since the late 1960’s.
It is obvious that Trump is very much to blame for current violence as his supporters have repeatedly attacked protesters at his rallies. He has sometimes fanned the flames through statements much like he said yesterday to a crowd at his rally in Kansas City, "These are bad, bad people, and we're going to take our country back from these people." Mr. Trump doesn’t have opponents; he has enemies that must be fought. His incendiary rhetoric does indeed rile up crowds on both sides.
Donald Trump has incited violence throughout his entire campaign by saying that he will pay for the legal defense of his supporters if they rough someone up. He often yells from the podium, “Get that guy out of here!”. The worst is when he calls protesters “what is wrong with America” or says, “They didn’t make this country great, you did.” Continually, people of any other belief (and inferred race) are painted as losers and those that are against us and our desire to restore America. Everyone that isn’t at that rally is an enemy.
Such violence doesn’t just come about from nowhere though. It is fostered over time. Were it not fostered, Mr. Trump might just be seen as blowhard by his current supporters instead of a savior. This is where the dialogue of the Republican Party and its media apparatus share blame. Years of ugly statements have fostered mistrust, a feeling of separation and a sense of us versus them.
Marco Rubio himself has repeatedly shown the core of the problem along the campaign trail by constantly painting the President as a man who hates America and wants to destroy it. While the statement is ridiculous in its very nature, it has been a constant theme throughout the entire time that President Obama has spent in office. Is it any wonder that hatred and violence are now spring forth from people that believe they are ruled by a dictator, a communist, a globalist and quite possibly a Muslim? All assertions are ridiculously daft but also the offshoots of a party that swore it would do anything it could to negate the presidency of Barack Obama.
The Republican Party has fostered conspiracy theories even within the halls of Congress. Men and woman that are supposed to be elected to be reasonable voices have gone so far as to call climate change a myth and tool from the Obama Administration to push socialism. Despite attempts at reasonable gun legislation by the President, these Representatives, along with the NRA, have continued to paint a picture of President Obama eventually sending police door to door to confiscate our guns. Conspiracy theories that used to be the domain of a crazy relative have become common among 30% of the population and created a large segment that is ready to fight a civil war they feel might be coming.
The conservative media apparatus that is Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and host of websites of dubious merit, have consistently reinforced messages of hate and bigotry. While Fox News will always claim it is concerned for all races, its commentators have consistently identified inner city violence as an African American problem. They have aligned African Americans with the concept of the welfare queen and framed them as lazy and taking from the hard working Americans. Their methodology is never to make such statements outright but to infer them in messages of supposed concern and a desire to end such problems but without ever mentioning or acknowledging systematic issues that impact African Americans such as disparate arrest rates and growing economic marginalization. They are happy to leave violence and poverty as black things. Where the “patriot’s” in Burns, Oregon were hailed as heroes, the protesters in Ferguson were called despicable with no discussion as to the underlying cause of their actions.
The death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco at the hands of an illegal immigrant last summer was used continuously by the media to hammer a message of being overrun by illegal immigrants that were violent and taking away jobs from hard working Americans. That violence rates are extremely low in the immigrant communities when compared against the U.S. as a whole, was ignored. Such an argument would be detrimental to news organizations that make a living by scaring their viewers in order to keep them coming back for more.
New social acceptance of gay marriage has been a catalyst by the conservative media and even Republican presidential candidates to claim religious persecution. Much of the evangelical community now feels that the U.S. government is against them. False statements by Carly Fiorina about Planned Parenthood in earlier Republican presidential debates, fostered fear of a society that has abandoned their religion entirely and now fosters the selling of baby parts. Clearly the evangelical right is being given something for which to fight, whether it is correct or not.
Fear fosters hate and the Republican Party has consistently sowed the seeds of fear ever since Barack Obama ascended to the office the Presidency. By making conspiracies commonplace and using scare tactics instead of reasonable dialogue about the issues facing America, they planted a seed over 7 years ago and have been growing it ever since. That it has grown into an invasive plant that is now enveloping the entire party, rests squarely on their shoulders alone.
No societal shift has ever just happened. The attitudes and violence now being seen in the Trump campaign have been grown by the dialogue of a once reasonable party. Economic decline that has happened to the white, blue collar male Trump supporters over the last decades, further supports the rage seen at his rallies. It matters not that the Republican concept of Trickle Down economics is much to blame, they are just angry at this point.
The Republican Party has been growing these results for the last seven years and quite possibly in the preceding three decades through economic sabotage. The United States now finds itself at a point where hate is being normalized into politics and we are now in the most important election year any of us have seen in our lifetimes.
Instead of continually placing blame, the Republican Party owns this reality. Trump is their creation. It’s politics though, and they will never admit it.
Sharon Jones is a new zenruption contributor and has her degree in political science from UCLA. She writes on topics concerning politics and life for zenruption. Currently she is reading Lina’s article, about 5 places to move to if Trump wins and contemplating Ecuador (see it here).
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license