Evan Osnos writes that Donald Trump “may seek to shape the outcome” of the Republican National Convention by priming his supporters to riot.
From the New Yorker:
More than three months before any ballots have been cast at the Republican convention, Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again consigliere, has delivered the campaign equivalent of a severed horse head to delegates who might consider denying Trump the nomination. Trump’s supporters will find you in your sleep, he merrily informed them this week. He did not mean it metaphorically.
By now, we know most of the chapters in Trump’s political playbook: the epithets for “low-energy” Jeb and Lyin’ Ted and Little Marco, and the bombshell provocations—about, say, a nuclear strike in Europe—as a way to draw attention away from unfavorable news and missteps. And, throughout, of course, the mockery of women. But as we approach the growing prospect of a contested convention, in which delegates can make game-time choices about whom they will support, it’s becoming clearer that Trump may seek to shape the outcome by using his most unwieldy weapon of all: the latent power of usually peaceful people.
It’s easy to mock Trump for his thin-skinned fixation on the size of his audiences, but that misses a deeper point: you can’t have a riot without a mob. Even before he was a candidate, Trump displayed a rare gift for cultivating the dark power of a crowd. In his role as the primary advocate of the “birther” fiction, he proved himself to be a maestro of the mob mentality, capable of conducting his fans through crescendos of rage and self-pity and suspicion. Speaking to the Times editorial board, in January, he said, “You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe, thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!,’ and they go nuts.”
And therein lies the key to Trump’s ability to introduce menace into the convention: he does not need to call upon his supporters to do anything but protect their newfound sense of identity and purpose.
Read the rest of the article here.