Writing in 1946, a year after the end of World War II, Albert Camus said that the difficult work that lay ahead of humanity was learning to make the daily choice between violence and “friendly persuasion.”
In a country as big and diverse as ours, disagreements are inevitable. That’s why it’s important to look not just at how one particular candidate’s positions align with my own, but also at how he or she chooses to negotiate disagreements, and how they treat people with whom they disagree.
Hillary Clinton’s secrecy is disturbing — though perhaps unsurprising, given how we’ve all been hounding her for the last 25 years. But Trump’s policies and postures, his very person, are all aggression. He jokes about violence, advocates violence, and uses the language of violence. There is no “friendly persuasion” for Trump, only the all-holy Win. I could agree with 99% of Trump’s platform and still not be able to vote for him. If violence is your political means, violence will be the inevitable end.
Update: A friend who is voting for Trump asked me how Trump helps incite violence. My friend also says that he is sometimes afraid to tell people that he is voting for Trump, saying he fears violence from liberals. My response:
Trump has at least twice joked about Hillary Clinton being assassinated; he tells people at his rallies to punch protestors in the face (and says he’ll pay for legal fees); when a Black Lives Matter protestor was beaten up by a gang of people at a Trump rally in Birmingham, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing”; he has said “Islam hates us”, even as hate crimes against Muslims spike around the US; I don’t need to tell you what he said about immigrants from Central and South America; there are now 11 women who have accused him of sexual assault, and he bragged in that Access Hollywood about groping women; he has carefully cultivated a reputation for being a bully in business, especially against small business people; he describes people he doesn’t like, including “the media” as “disgusting” and “sleazy”; he once said that the federal government is going to round up gun owners “like Jews in Nazi Germany”; he once said that he could shoot somebody in midtown-Manhattan and not lose any political support; he’s never really admonished his staff people who have joked about hanging Obama or killing Clinton; he advocates the torture of terrorist suspects; he asked the Russian government to spy on his opponent; he says he is going to lock up Clinton if he wins; he once said of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who had just executed some suspected traitors, “You’ve got to him credit…he doesn’t play games”; he called the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square “vicious” and “horrible” but also said, “it shows you the power of strength”. Etc., etc.
I think there are certainly threats of violence coming from some on the left, but nothing in comparison to what has come from Trump’s campaign, including Trump himself. And what I posted here doesn’t even include the racially coded threats of the language of “law and order” or intimidating people at polling stations. Finally, I encourage you to watch this video, if you haven’t already…