At a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, today, Donald Trump took his vile campaign to a new level when, talking about what it would be like if Hillary Clinton would get to nominate justices for the Supreme Court, he said, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks... though the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.”
There you have it: Donald Trump became the first presidential candidate in American history to explicitly threaten a rival with assassination. Prior to this speech, it would have been hard to imagine how much more despicable Trump and his rhetoric could get, but it would have been reasonable to assume that he wouldn’t sink to threatening Clinton with the spectre of murder.
As sickening as Trump’s words are (not to mention as criminal, one would hope the Secret Service seriously investigates this threat to Clinton’s life), perhaps the most disturbing part of the video, in which we can hear his hateful speech, is the glimpse at Trump’s supporters in the background, notably a bearded man who utters the word, “wow,” appears to be impressed, and looks to the woman next to him, whose face is in a wide grin of approval.
Of course, the Trump campaign has already responded to the public’s outrage at his wildly irresponsible comments; the campaign claims that it was a call for unification, and nothing more. This, of course, is absurd. This is not a joking matter. Trump and his campaign’s continued comfort with potentially inciting violence is immoral and has a dangerous precedent. In 2010, Trump-endorser Sarah Palin published a map of America, upon which were crosshair targets on areas represented legislators who had voted for things like Obamacare, and who Palin and her ilk wanted to remove from office. The fact that Palin used crosshairs to “target” these lawmakers was made all the more memorable when one of them—Arizona representative Gabby Giffords—was shot mere months later at an event. Giffords survived being shot in the head; six other people, including a 9-year-old, were killed.
Politics is a notoriously ugly business. Inflammatory things are said all the time. None of that is any excuse to introduce the idea of gun violence as it pertains to your opponents. The United States is already a place plagued by shootings; countless American lives have been cut short this year alone due to gun violence. And Donald Trump, who seeks to lead this country, is calling for more death and more violence.