Donald Trump claims to speak for the “silent majority.” The Trump campaign website even sells “silent majority” rally signs (yours for the low, low price of $10). But Trump’s “silent majority” is neither silent, nor is it a majority.
It’s the same for President Obama’s social justice warriors (SJW’s) who are encouraged to actively display their pique in very aggressive terms. Obama’s warriors are proud of their minority status, attributing “privilege” to their oppressors, who (mostly) happen to be Trump’s “silent majority.”
The events in Missouri and Chicago were the inevitable result of these two groups clashing. Their collision is important to those of us who are horrified by it not for its news value or the fact that both sides need to be condemned. It’s important because it identifies a dangerous historical trend line, which, if allowed to continue, will result in America’s fall.
Balkanization is a geopolitical term describing the fragmentation of a nation into smaller, antagonist states. Whether these states have actual boundary lines is less important in this case as the fact that the boundary exists in our social circles, cities and voting booths. This is more than simple politics at work.
Of course there’s little ideological common ground between leftist, God-denying Democrats and conservative Christian (the regular church-attending kind) Republicans, or Libertarians and statists on the other axis. But there’s a common playing field upon which these issues are contested. That playing field is the voting booth and the levers of government. The First Amendment protects our right to assemble and address grievances. It does not give us the right to threaten or harm others in the process.
When the battle leaves the playing field and enters the realm of Balkanization, we have entered a dangerous place, that America only emerged from 150 years ago. Yes, that’s the Civil War to which I’m referring. While the Civil War was largely fought among white Americans against white Americans (yes, African-Americans bravely participated and in no way am I demeaning their effort), this round of Balkanization pits classes and races against each other.
In the Civil War, the difference between the teenage boys in blue and Johnny Reb were little more than the color of their uniforms and where they grew up. Many of the generals on both sides attended West Point (some attended together). Robert E. Lee famously led a platoon of Marines to put down John Brown’s takeover of Harpers Ferry armory in 1859. (Lee was recalled from leave as the only field-grade officer in the area, how’s that for serendipity?)
When the Civil War ended, both sides could put down their arms and start the long healing process because we were all Americans. I won’t get into the mistakes of Reconstruction and the long chain of racism and Jim Crow that evolved from it. But today’s politics of Balkanization is arguably much worse than the relics of the bloodiest conflict ever to take place on American soil.
History argues my point. When Trump goes on network TV and tells Chris Matthews that the protesters are “extremely dangerous,” then tweets that the protesters have “energized America” and have “shut down our First Amendment rights” he’s fomenting Balkanization just like Obama does.
The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2016
All the free press coverage Trump is getting (while Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are barely even quoted when they note that only Trump’s events result in violence) is a reward for Trump’s call to action and “us versus them” attitude beyond the playing field of political discourse.
There’s a historical precedent for this kind of baiting to amass power. And yes, I’m going there.
The small but growing NSDAP in Germany attracted lots of violence in their rallies, mostly by Communists, who in fact were thugs attempting to capture German political power. As the violence grew in the early 1930’s, the “silent majority” of white, disaffected, unemployed Germans was mobilized, with the more ardent among them organized into paramilitary groups loyal to their leader.
Then in 1933, Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch Communist, burned the Reichstag building. Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor just a month prior to the fire and used that event to consolidate his power. Claims of 9/11 being preventable by President George W. Bush and used to propagate his own private power grab are based on the same conspiracy theories that fueled Hitler’s rise (and some believe to this day that Hitler ordered the Reichstag fire). Trump is tapping into the same vein Hitler mined.
In 1938, the dots connected with Kristallnacht, as German citizens joined with SA political brownshirts to vandalize Jewish businesses in an nationwide Pogrom. After that, there was no healing Germany or stopping at the brink. They were over the cliff.
Mobilizing an army of activists in violent protest, whether they are Black Lives Matter, the Weather Underground, Nation of Islam, or Trump’s “silent majority” is a step in a dangerous direction. In fact, Trump’s counterinsurgency to Obama’s SJW’s is even more dangerous than groups like the KKK. Because when the white, disaffected, unemployed and frustrated people who follow Trump start believing it’s okay to leave the political playing field and move into actual physical violence, we are moving toward Balkanization.
Balkanization motivates racial, class, and religious hatred. And those things lead to events like the Reichstag fire and Kristallnacht.
We see how President Obama acts “presidential” by calling for calm while at the same time condemning his political foes and calling for more activism. According to Trump, he hasn’t even begun to act presidential, but could. “If I wanted to be, I can be more presidential than anybody,” he said.
Well, now is as good a time as any. In fact, it’s the best time.
I don’t see Trump starting his “presidential” act anytime soon. And I don’t see Obama calming the storm either. The two of them are a recipe for potentially the most dangerous trend in American politics. And the press is aiding and abetting their disaster.
The only antidote for Trump’s politics of Balkanization is to bring political discourse back into the field of play, by supporting someone who values the Constitution and the Bill of Rights over their own megalomaniacal fuhrer dreams.
America needs Ted Cruz more than ever. In fact, he might be our only hope.