As more anti-Trump riots dominate the 2016 political landscape, members of the moderate left are worried that the protests are making the New York billionaire and his supporters much more sympathetic and may help propel Donald Trump to victory in November.
As the Bernie Sanders campaign winds down toward its inevitable demise, one segment of his radical supporters has cast longing eyes upon Donald Trump. It is not that they admire anything about what he stands for so much as what he stands against: Hillary Clinton and Establishment politics. “Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in then things will really, you know explode,” explained Susan Sarandon earlier this spring. The writer Susan Webber has an essay in Politico headlined, “Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump Over Hillary.”
Meanwhile, also on the left, another seemingly diametrical response to Trump has taken shape. Various radical groups have staged confrontations intended to shut down Trump’s speeches or to provoke street fights with his supporters. Thursday night in San Jose, demonstrators attacked Trump supporters merely for attending his speech.Several left-wing writers have justified these tactics.
It is a fascinatingly bifurcated response. Vote for Trump! Or maybe suppress his campaign through violence! Anything other than, you know, just trying to elect Hillary Clinton. This may seem like a contradiction, but it is actually consistent. And not just because the most likely result of violently confronting Trump is to enable his election. It is the expression of a backlash on the left against liberalism — with all its maddening compromises and deference to the rights of the enemy — which fetishizes success as the by-product of cataclysmic struggle.
The defenses of violence revolve around the same point. If Trump poses an extraordinary threat to the sanctity of American democracy, doesn’t this justify an extraordinary response?
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