Dangers for Democrats

An ATF investigator looks through a burned-out building in Kenosha, Wis., August 28, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

‘The violence will continue unless you vote for Biden’ sounds like a threat. Voters don’t always respond well to threats.


all me crazy, but I don’t think Joe Biden’s best response to the news of a leftist protestor shooting a peaceful Donald Trump supporter in the head execution-style is to run in front of the cameras and say, “This is Donald Trump’s America.” Or repeating the close of his news release the other day, “How safe do you feel in Donald Trump’s America.”

When you put it that way, it sounds like a threat.

Maybe that’s why he’s calling off his planned visit to Kenosha.

The theory behind Democrats saying over and over again “This is Donald Trump’s America” is that, unlike in 1968, the Republican candidate talking about law and order in 2020 is an incumbent. So it’s all on him.

I don’t think it works that way. Maybe in 1968 people not only noticed who the incumbent was, but what side the unrest was on. Our “uprisings” are led by people who hate Trump. They are happening under Democratic governors, and in cities with Democratic mayors and city counsels. Those elected officials have turned down multiple offers of help. It was a Democrat mayor who called the Seattle Autonomous Zone a “summer of love” as its residents violently extorted local business. She closed it down only after the second child was murdered in it.

“This is Donald Trump’s America.” I just don’t know. When I was a dumb teenager, I once used an aerosol spray can and a lighter in the kitchen to make a minor flame thrower. I burned a curtain. I wasn’t clever enough to turn to my mother and excuse myself by protesting, “At the end of the day, this is your house!”

Maybe nothing matters in this election. You can squint at the polls and notice that Joe Biden has had a lead of seven points or more over Trump all through the summer of unrest, back to the start of the COVID-19 crisis, and even during January when Donald Trump was pointing to unemployment numbers and the Dow Jones and blowing himself air kisses about the state of things in Donald Trump’s America.

But I think these months of unrest are potentially a danger for Democrats hoping to get reelected.

We’re told to make distinctions. Like the one between “protesters” and rioters. Indeed, many at the scenes of unrest do witness people who leave the protest and agitators who then join the developing riot. The transformation occurs at sundown or the legally mandated curfew. The innocent protestors are like concertgoers who are devoted to the obscure opening act. But the riots are the headline act. We make distinctions between fanatics at one or the other. But for event-planning purposes, it’s one show. The opening protest provides the fig leaf of moral legitimacy to the acts that follow, the aim of which is intimidation.

Maybe the problem is that Joe Biden is making distinctions too — and making them too finely. Democrats ignored the issue entirely at their convention. Then, seeing the hay made by Republicans, Biden condemned “the violence” this weekend but stopped short of condemning the violent. Now he’s condemning the violence on all sides.

Maybe because he believes some of them are very fine people.

The other danger is the loose talk of how there will be a “crisis of legitimacy” if Donald Trump wins the election fair and square. We’re now being warned that an Electoral College win for Trump, but a popular vote “victory” for Joe Biden could lead to violence. The New York Times podcast of August 27 mentioned a Color Revolution. So has The Atlantic. One organizer giving a speech this weekend in the new Black Lives Matter Plaza of Washington, D.C., called for pulling Trump out of the White House before Election Day.

The fantasy of ending Donald Trump’s presidency through some kind of apocalyptic and extra-legal confrontation, rather than an election, keeps getting persistent airing on the left. This is what is behind the two-week campaign of fearmongering about the Post Office.

This trend would worry me if I were Joe Biden, for two reasons. The first is that it looks like yet another threat of violence against Trump supporters, with an attempt to legitimize it by having warned everyone in advance. People respond to threats unpredictably. And the second reason it should worry Biden is that he’s running for president. And maybe people are fantasizing about violence because they can’t convince themselves to get excited about voting.

Joe Biden’s America is within our grasp. You just have to reach for the lever and pull it. The poll numbers suggest it should be easy to achieve. But for some reason, it’s not enough.

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