Three domestic white supremacist terror attacks on America in three days. Future historians may view these events as early shots in the nation’s Second Civil War. If so, Trump is supplying the ammunition.
Future historians may also ask why Trump would do that.
Here’s a lead for them to pursue: Trump’s scorched-democracy strategy may be his only path to surviving the Trump-Russia probe. Trump’s biographers — especially those who have gotten to know him and his techniques best, including Tim O’Brien and David Cay Johnston — have warned that Trump will do anything to survive.
That is exactly what we are seeing in real time.
Lost in the Shuffle
On Thursday, Oct. 25, a white supremacist attacked in Louisville, Kentucky. Gregory Bush, an armed, 51-year-old white man, tried to enter a black church. Locked doors stopped him. His consolation prize became two innocent black senior citizens at the nearby Kroger supermarket.
Trump’s response: silence.
Then two more prominent attacks swamped the episode.
“On Both Sides…”
On Friday, Oct. 26, federal authorities arrested the suspected MAGAbomber. Another middle-aged white male, Cesar Sayoc, was accused of sending pipe bombs to Trump’s most prominent rhetorical targets, including Hillary Clinton and CNN.
When the bombs began arriving two days earlier, Trump responded initially by echoing the “false flag” hypothesis that his most ardent supporters were pushing: This was an attempt by Democrats to rob him of media coverage going into the midterms. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Lou Dobbs, Geraldo Rivera. Donald Trump Jr., and others suggested variously that: 1) liberals and/or Democratic operatives were behind the plot; 2) the bombs were “fake” (they weren’t according to FBI Director Christoper Wray); and/or 3) the whole thing was an elaborate hoax.
Then came the truth: Sayoc is a fanatical Trump supporter. At a Trump rally last year, he held up a “CNN sucks” sign. When asked about the accused attacker, Trump said: “I heard he was a person who prefers me over others, but I did not see that.”
Trump refused to answer a reporter’s follow-up question: Does he disavow Sayoc’s support? But the answer came less than two days later when Trump led rally crowds cheering “CNN sucks” and “Lock her up.”
“If There Was An Armed Guard…”
On Saturday, Oct. 27, another domestic terrorist killed eleven worshippers at Pittsburgh’s oldest synagogue. Shortly before he attacked, 46-year-old Robert Bowers railed against the “migrant caravan” — a favorite Trump midterm campaign theme — and the role of Jews who were bringing in immigrants determined to destroy America.
“If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him,” Trump told reporters as he boarded a flight to rallies in Indiana and Illinois. Most telling of all: Trump didn’t cancel his campaign rallies.
Method, Not Madness
Trump understands the impact of his words, especially on his most ardent and psychologically fragile followers. Those words are no longer dog whistles; they’re bullhorns summoning the lesser angels of human nature. When Trump boasts that he’s a “nationalist” and talks about good people “on both sides” of hate crimes — drawing a false moral equivalence between the perpetrators and their victims — he knows exactly what he’s saying and to whom he is saying it. He uses words as bullets, and he knows when he’s pulling the trigger.
Remember when Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”
Well, right now, he has aimed the gun at the heart of American democracy.
Trump the predator has made what was once the Republican party his host species. As a result, for the past two years he has functioned without any legislative check on his power.
On November 6, that must change. Vote for a Democrat. Any Democrat. A single Democratically-controlled house of Congress won’t solve the nation’s Trump problem. That will take generations. But it’s a start. And if we don’t start somewhere, well…
Vote. On November 6, just vote.
Here are the latest additions to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
JAN. 6, 2018: Stone Says He’s Urging Pardon for Assange
OCT. 22, 2018: Bolton Says Russian Election Interference Had No Impact
OCT. 23, 2018: Trump Blasts Cohen Over Tapes
OCT. 23, 2018: Trump: I ‘Probably Will‘ Meet With Putin in November
OCT. 25-26, 2018: House Republicans Interview Papadopoulos; Papadopoulos Has Second Thoughts About Plea Deal, Seeks Immunity from Senate
OCT. 26, 2018: White House Formally Invites Putin to Washington