aNewDomain commentary — It would be hard to think of a stranger day in American political history than Friday, Sept. 30. That was when Donald Trump invoked the possibility of insurrection against an elected President of the United States.
Yes, you read that right.
When asked if he would respect the outcome of the election, and before the largest audience to watch a presidential debate, Trump said, “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.”
In rescinding his oath to support the results of the US presidential election, Trump not only fails to uphold the Oath of Office for the job he wants. He becomes disqualified from the presidency. And if he incites supporters to violence, as Trump repeatedly had, he could face charges of treason.
Consider the background of Trump’s frequent dog-whistles to the extreme White Nationalists who support him so intensely. (That’s their art, at right and above.)
Consider also the “Second Amendment People” he once suggested should shoot Clinton.
Any threat of insurrection against an elected President of the United States must be taken seriously.
It gets worse, too.
At the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, Trump said he would imprison Hillary Clinton if he were elected.
“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your (missing email) situation … because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump told Clinton on Sunday, who looked, at first, like she didn’t quite get the gravity of the statement.
It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” she remarked.
“Because,” Trump interrupted, as if he were finishing her sentence, “you’d be in jail.”
No matter what you think of Clinton, the fact of the matter is that action would be illegal. The president has no arrest powers under the Constitution.
Plus, caging opponents is what dictators do when they assume power.
No wonder Trump’s campaign manager, Kelly Anne Conway, told reporters after the debate that Trump was just making a “quip.”
But the day after, at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Trump once again made his view abundantly clear. For the first time, he responded to supporters’ chants to “lock her up” in the affirmative, saying: “Lock her up is right.”
Rebelling or causing rebellion against a sitting US president is treasonous. And jailing your opponents once elected? That’s dictatorship.
Since Sept. 30, the treasonous part of the story got lost amid the gutter-scraping, utterly irrelevant topic Trump’s been pitching of 20-year-old Bill Clinton infidelities and alleged assaults.
As for the dictator-esque threat to imprison a political candidate: No president would have the power to do this in our republic, not without some kind of insurrection, that is. (That is how they got Eugene V. Debs.)
But just days after Trump made his incendiary comments, even that story is nearly buried, already relegated to the pile of yesterday’s news in the real-time, daily Trump hit fest and news dump that the national news media has become.
Lest you say, as Trump’s campaign managers and all manner of supporters have, that we are taking this too seriously, it’s just Trump’s ebullient, devil-may-care personality at work, try to remember what presidential campaigns used to be like.
Meet Biff Tannen
Despite the occasional “where’s the beef” moment, it isn’t junior high. But look around; you’d never know it. Donald Trump has built a movement off making this election into an exact facsimile of junior high, an entertaining transformation that somehow tricks his supporters into accepting his juvenile claims and comments.
To Trump, his opponents and critics are stupid “losers” — or “ugly” or “fat.” Read: Not worth paying attention to.
And anyone with a question, Trump says again and again, is just being negative. Why? Don’t ask why. It’s because Donald Trump says so, that’s why.
Back to the important information that made the last day of September so unique, a genuine low, in American political history.
Trump started the day about 3 a.m., proving that he should not be presented with any crisis at that hour, with a bizarre tweet storm about a former Miss Universe that led to his calling for people to watch a sex tape. (He denied that he had ever done so at the second presidential debate, I should note.)
By late evening, Trump had escalated Clinton’s personal life above all the important issues — he’s got huge, beautiful plans for walls and righteous isolationism based not on the nuclear triad, but on Trump’s finger poised ominously on the button.
It’s an oddly alluring and altogether dishonest strategy, this turning of an election into a cruel and brutal junior high popularity contest.
It’s also ridiculous — because it stands in the face of the real challenges the United States faces today.
And the more desperate Trump gets, the more Mussolini he gets.
Now Trump knows he’s losing on every dimension of the policy debate, because he can’t master the topics, so he’s all-in on non-political, personal attack. He’s following the same tired strategy that started his campaign in July 2015 on a golden down-escalator. Trump’s campaign is apolitical nonsense and personal abuse.
This is not a man who learned from his mistakes. He cannot imagine his mistakes, instead he complains his microphone is to blame for his awful debate performance.
What would he do if Russian president Vladimir Putin provided a poor translator for Trump during a negotiation? That will happen, and there’s no excuse for a president choking under those circumstances, or in any situation.
At the end of the day, Trump dropped the insurrection bomb, suggesting he would have to decide for himself and, consequently for all of us, whether the election was legitimate before accepting defeat. He, not the rule of law, will call down his supporters. Putsch-talk.
The cognitive dissonance involved in Trump’s retracting a promise he made in front of a television audience of 80+ million boggles anyone trying to pay attention to the election. Trump will surely claim he never said it.
But we all saw and heard it. Defiantly, like a three-year-old holding his breath, Trump stands apart in his own reality where every probing intelligent question is an attack upon his dignity.
We know that Trump has endorsed and been endorsed by Putin, the leader of the Unfree World, the “illiberal democracies” Trump and his team seem to want the United States to join.
We know, just today, that Trump lied in the second debate when he said “no one knows” if Russia had anything to do with the DNC hacks. Because US intelligence officials came out today, the day after, to say that he did: That they briefed him on Russia’s role in the DNC hacks back in August.
We know Trump has the manic stamina to go after Clinton, if she wins. He is already complaining that, if he loses the election, it will have been “rigged.”
“Why isn’t Donald Trump asked: Are you suggesting insurrection is a direction you are willing to take if the election does not go your way?
This is the kind of “con” he constantly invokes to describe critics. Only con men see con men everywhere. You don’t have to dig too deeply on the social nets to find hordes of hard core Trump supporters who repeat such Trump warnings. They also seem to be responding en masse to his call to “monitor” polling places.
This cannot end well.
Why doesn’t someone just ask Donald Trump: Are you suggesting insurrection is a direction you are willing to take if the election does not go your way?
And if he is, when he is, and if he does not answer authoritatively in the negative, then why is he not in prison for calling people to participate in treason if he is not elected?
Aaron Burr was ultimately exiled for similar public calls to insurrection at various times in his career. The J. Edgar Hoover-led FBI of the 1960s crushed The Black Panther Party and a dozen other far left radical movements — for far, far less.
Maybe Donald Trump is too simple-minded to truly consider such actions. Doesn’t matter. He’s still dangerous.
The same day Trump made it clear that he might test the election he also waged a tweet storm around the former Miss Universe Alicia Machado urging us all to check out her “sex tape” from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. eastern.
At 5:30 a.m. ET Trump tweeted: Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?
At the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, Trump out and out denied to moderator Anderson Cooper that he ever said that. “it wasn’t ‘check out a sex tape,’ Trump said. It was “take a look at the person (Clinton) built her up to me.” Trump was lying, you may know. The tweet is still up. Trump never bothered to delete it.
And the so-called “sex tape” he claims now he never mentioned? It’s never surfaced.”
Also, on the same day, there was the release of the Trump’s deposition tape, regarding a case that alleges he damaged his company due to his political positions.
Watch it. Look at him. In that video, Trump has the body language of a liar — either that, or he has a really, really bad back.
We know it cannot be the latter, per his pretend “doctor’s statement” that the oldest person elected President would also be the healthiest, Adonis-like god-man. God Emperor Trump, his furthest alt-right supporters have dubbed him.
“The main point here is that we aren’t allowed the time to take in the deposition, the tweet storm, the NYT interview in which he threatens to contest the election. Who could in just one day?
There aren’t enough hours in the day to watch everything.
The other main point: History is watching.
And if the free press won’t stop him — and it won’t, or can’t — that leaves us.
Gen. George Armstrong Custer, if he’d become president instead of dying at Little Big Horn, might have rivaled Trump in the power-drunk, crazy-narcissist department. (Though Custer was, in all fairness, a genuine Civil War hero).
Otherwise, America has steered clear of this kind of rabid candidate for the most part.
We’ve never seen a day like this. The real-time media is responsible for the majority of this. It’s a dark and powerful force, with Trump its Vader.
Sept. 30 now, to many, looks now like just another day in the news cycle. Like a WWE Summer Slam or even the Republican convention, it looks all purposeless in our collective real world, except that it had some things to distract us from the real world, which faces a growing nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan over water.
What would Trump tweet about that, if he paid attention to such things?
What about the taxes? The breaking of the Cuban embargo? The illegal raising of foreign money to pay for a domestic election? What about his calls for a foreign power to spy on us, which is exactly what Russia did.
At the second debate, it turns out Trump lied about that last point, too, claiming that no one knows whether Russia hackers broke into the DNC or not.
But Trump did know. US intelligence officials, strangely outraged, went public the day after the debate to say they’d briefed Trump (and presumably, Clinton) on exactly this last August.
“To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation,” a US intelligence official told NBC the days after Trump’s comment. “The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates all the information they need to be crystal clear.”
So here’s what we do …
Twenty-seven more days is too much more of this.
The damage we’ve caused to our political system by entertaining this self-convinced savior has gone on long enough.
The only way to turn off Trump, is to #TuneOutTrump.
Look. Donald Trump has turned a corner no one should. He started talking insurrection. He did it as a dictator would, saying he would decide for all of us whether the US presidential election is valid or not. And, like some kind of Saddam Hussein, he’s openly threatened to cage his opponent if elected.
Remember that we began this election with speculation among Republican candidates about who among them had the guts to kill baby Hitler. Then, naïvely, we watched with horror, fascination and enthusiasm as it unfolded before us. And, well, this is what we got.
But we can, even at this late stage — especially at this late stage — end our huge national nightmare and end Trump in so doing.
Donald Trump is dangerously unqualified to be President of the United States. He disrespects our votes by deciding whether to honor the results of an election, and so much else.
We can disarm him and his so-called movement by one action: All we need to do is look away.
The first battlefront is Twitter. Let’s let him know by tweeting telling “@therealdonald that we intend to #TuneOutTrump”
Then, all of us should block him on Twitter and turn off the electronic media coverage of Trump.
Stop watching, turn the channel, turn off the feeds. We must wean ourselves off the constant watching of this train wreck. We must make ourselves do it, hard as it is.
And anyway, there’s some great sports on right now.
The networks will figure out fast enough Trump isn’t a draw anymore. And they will respond accordingly, as they always to.
Let’s read the rest of the election at the speed of newspapers. Trump’s shtick doesn’t work there, as demonstrated by several consistently Republican editorial boards that broke with tradition to condemn the Trump campaign this fall.
It’s time to turn off Trump, to get back to some semblance of a serious political debate. There are important House, Senate, governors mansions and state questions up for grabs.
We need real debate, not the vitriol Trump spouts daily to distract from his utter lack of a plan or his lack of knowledge of the facts, of the nation, of the Constitution that stands to protect us from someone who’d try to do the same things he threatens to do, with increasingly frequency, as the election nears.
If you’ve made your decision, tune him out and see how the election changes for you when not drinking from the firehose of nonsense.
Please act. “Tell @therealdonald that our plan is to #TuneOutTrump”
It won’t be easy, but Trump will go away if we don’t reward him with our attention. He’s that shallow a candidate, who puts his own well-being and ego ahead of family and country.
Let’s put ours in front of his.
It’s the least we can do for this country.
An earlier version of Mitch Ratcliffe’s opinion column ran here. Ed.
Cover image: BreakingNewsBlast.com, All Rights Reserved. Illustrations of Trump as “God Emperor”: Saboteur365, All Rights Reserved; InflamerMedia.com, All Rights Reserved; Tumblr.com, All Rights Reserved.
Here is a video of Donald Trump, at the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016, telling Hillary Clinton that “I am going to instruct my attorney general to prosecute your emails”
Here’s the moment in the March 11, 1984 debate when Walter Mondale famously challenged Gary Hart with a slogan from a Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?”