Takin’ It to the Streets?

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has been downplaying the prospect of Donald Trump supporters having a profoundly irrational reaction to the Republican Presidential candidate’s likely defeat on November 8. I don’t necessarily gainsay O’Donnell’s overall point–that most Trump supporters will return to their lives, disappointed in the election outcome but determined to take their kids to sports practice, work hard on the job, love their spouses, and contribute to society just as they did before.

However, we are a country with a history, and as William Faulkner observed, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” To that end, one should be concerned about, shall we say, a deplorable reaction from some Trump supporters to the Donald’s defeat. These are the folks who think the nothingburger about Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s e-mails is, as Trump absurdly said yesterday, “bigger than Watergate.” How do you think they’ll react to a Trump loss?

Consider what happened in the supposedly blue state of Massachusetts just hours after Barack Obama defeated John McCain eight years ago:

The bishop of a predominantly black Tinkham Road church, destroyed by a suspicious fire Wednesday morning, said, “It gives every appearance of being a deliberate act or hate crime.”

Federal investigators were at the scene of the ruined church which was still under construction at 215 Tinkham Road, Springfield Fire Department spokesman Dennis G. Leger said.

It was to be the new home of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ. The fire loss is estimated at $2 million, Leger said.

“This is big. This is huge,” a neighbor, Michael R. Caron, of Fox Wood Drive said. “This is like Springfield, Miss., here.”

Bishop Bryant Robinson, speaking from the fire scene, said parishioners are “in shock and disbelief that somebody would do that. Particularly when the church is not doing any harm to anybody and trying to help people.”

The suspicious fire started hours after Barack Obama made history as the nation’s first black president-elect.

“There is a symmetry,” Robinson said of the joy following Obama’s win and the horrific loss that quickly followed.

Three white men were convicted of this hate crime, this symbolic lynching of Barack Obama. Think about how much more hatred has grown in the hearts and minds of millions of right-wing Americans in the eight years since Obama’s historic victory. Remember when Rush Limbaugh–the man these right-wing Americans think would make a better President than Obama–proclaimed that he hoped Obama would fail? Now that Obama has clearly succeeded, these right-wing Americans are in a state of rage. A black man has demonstrated that he was capable of succeeding in the most important job in the world–and a woman may do the same. That’s intolerable to the right-wing mind.

Sorry, but I’m not as sanguine as O’Donnell is about post-election peace. Frankly, I’m scared to death that a not-insignificant portion of disappointed Trump supporters will decide to, shall we say, break stuff if the networks declare Clinton the winner. Does anyone seriously think that a defeated Trump will encourage his supporters to react calmly and rationally? If anything, Trump might encourage his supporters to engage in uncivil disobedience in protest of an allegedly “rigged” result.

I wouldn’t put it past Trump to turn a concession speech into an incitement to insurrection. November 8 will be a night filled with anxiety for women, people of color, religious minorities and anyone who wakes up in the morning with concerns that they might not make it to the same bed that night as a result of right-wing-inspired violence. Either a extremist will be elevated by the election, or that extremist will lose and encourage his followers to go ballistic.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.