If you’re a social justice warrior, the chic, cool thing to do is to sneak into one of the many circuses Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is staging and disrupt it.
Sometimes the end goal is to disrupt it to the point you provoke one of the attendees into assaulting you, then you’re set for instant stardom.
Such was the case with one Trump supporter who apparently punched a protester at a campaign rally last week in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He has since been charged with assault. Seventy-eight-year-old John McGraw cold-cocked Rakeem Jones, a protester who, at the time, was brandishing his middle fingers as security escorted him out of the event.
What was Jones hoping to accomplish? Did he think those people at that rally were going to say, “Well this nice gentleman seems to disapprove of Trump. We better change our votes to Rubio?”
Perhaps protesters are taking a page out of the Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” playbook. Remember the speculation following the 2008 election that the Obama administration was executing the Alinsky plan?
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.”
Trump is doing a good job of being polarizing on his own, even without protesters interrupting his rallies.
The worst disruptions came in Chicago last Friday night, where the disruptions forced the cancellation of one of Trump’s rallies.
In what was reminiscent of the 1964 Democratic National Convention in the Windy City, anti-Trump protesters clashed with rallygoers inside and outside of the venue. Those heightened tensions forced Trump to call off the event.
For all the anti-Trump people, this could backfire on them.
GOP strategist Karl Rove, of President George W. Bush fame, has predicted as much because it creates a situation that seems “un-American,” especially with lefty storefronts like MoveOn.Org and Black Lives Matter instigating the protests.
“I think it will tend to help him,” Rove said in an interview on Fox News. “Let’s divorce this two, this question, put it into two parts. MoveOn.Org, Black Lives Matter and others who — who have announced their desire to break up Trump rallies by organized demonstrations inside the halls.
“To have, as an organized aim, like the leader of MoveOn.Org said, to get into these rallies and disrupt them is fundamentally un-American,” Rove added.
The one thing these protests have accomplished is that they have created a media feeding frenzy about violence at his political rallies, which seems to be a backdoor way of undermining Trump.
That’s probably not going to work either, at least in a GOP primary contest. Your average Rush Limbaugh-listening, Fox News-watching Republican primary voter doesn’t trust the media. And the fact that the media is questioning a candidate on any grounds will just solidify his support in some ways.
The media is in some ways culpable for what they’re criticizing. It’s been nonstop Trump on cable news channels because Trump is ratings gold for them. While most of these presidential hopefuls have had to appear in studio, they’ve allowed Trump to appear by phone or via remote camera at one of his many properties.
With a tailwind of publicity, Trump has been built up as this figure that is worth someone risking a night in jail as a show of protest.
But it goes back to the original question: What do any of these demonstrations accomplish?
In fact, if you’re really on the left-of-center Democratic progressive side, wouldn’t you want Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee so that as we approach the actual general election, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would have an easier path to the White House?
If you’re looking at it from a straight x’s and o’s standpoint, Trump is the only candidate who trails Clinton in a head-to-head matchup. Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) are either tied with or ahead of Clinton nationally, while Trump trails by six points according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls of hypothetical general election matchups.
If it is “avoid Trump at all costs,” you’re not going to achieve success by rushing the stage or taunting his supporters at one of his events. He’s going to have to be defeated at the ballot box.
It’s going to take voting in a GOP primary for someone besides Trump to succeed and the get-out-the-vote effort isn’t going to be bolstered by any protests.
As we watch these events unfold and the media’s relentless coverage, the question should be, why are these people staging these protests? It can be for any number of reasons — people seeking their 15 minutes of fame, BLM or MoveOn wanting to galvanize their movement or people really wanting to express disapproval of Trump.
But if you’re going beat him, it’s not going to be a result of some half-cocked, rabble-rousing demonstration in front of thousands of his supporters.