United States — Donald Trump’s caustic campaign certainly creates abundant headline fodder, but the old adage — there’s no such thing as bad publicity — has particular expediency for the candidate. While the veracity of the adage might normally be debatable, because Trump happens to be running a presidential campaign, his largely negative publicity amounts to ‘free advertising’ — $1.9 billion worth.
To wit, Trump’s latest headliner — evidencing an increasing penchant for inviting violence upon anyone he considers adversarial — pertains to an alarming statement given to CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Asked what might happen should he not garner the required 1,237 delegates necessary to become the Republican Party’s nominee, Trump said:
“I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but I can tell you, if we didn’t and we’re 20 votes short or if we’re … you know, 100 short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400 — because we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically. I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots.”
Adding that he represents “many millions of people,” including a large number of first-time voters, Trump asserted the “real story” concerns his large following — and implied any failure to win at the convention would be questionable.
“Now, if you disenfranchise those people,” Trump somewhat ominously continued, “and you say, ‘well, I’m sorry, but you’re 100 votes short’ … I think you’d have problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I believe that.” He added, “I wouldn’t lead that, but I think bad things would happen.”
Pundits leapt, positing theories for whether this amounted to an intentional threat of violence or simple prediction based on the now-familiar, ever-prevalent behavior of supporters at Trump rallies. Such a distinction remains inconsequential should rioting actually occur; and, considering the pattern, it likely will.
Needless to say, this is problematic. Preparations for the Republican National Convention are already underway — and Cleveland, where the event will be held, predicted possible unrest weeks before Trump’s dark portent.
Earlier this month, reports revealed the city had been seeking 2,000 sets of riot gear to purchase with the hefty $50 million federal grant to beef up security for the RNC, which runs from July 18-21.
What can be said of the political process when violence appears the inevitable outcome of any undesirable result? Many have called Trump a joke of a candidate, but his arrogant acceptance of — and occasional stated desire for — violence during rallies proves there is no comedic tinge to the mockery of politics he’s creating.