“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Is Trump inciting violence here? Or is it just a forthright invitation to get politically active? It’s not entirely clear. And that is something new for The Donald.
Most of his controversial statements in this campaign have been anything but subtle, designed, it seems, to appeal directly to the worst instincts of his most devoted supporters. Think of his attacks on his competitors: “Lyin’ Ted,” or of course, “Crooked Hillary”. Or remember “Blood coming out of her…whatever.”
In this case, we have Trump engaging in something Republicans have perfected since the days of Richard Nixon: dog-whistle appeals.
In this case, we have Trump engaging in something Republicans have perfected since the days of Richard Nixon: dog-whistle appeals. Like the whistle that dogs can hear but people can’t, Republicans for decades have appealed to racist stereotypes of their voters with code words like “welfare queen,” or “law and order,” or “voting fraud,” even as they deny any such intent, and even as voters themselves can deny being racist. This is the foundation of the Republican Party’s successful takeover of the old Solid South.
Here, Trump can build on a quarter-century of Republican demonization of Hillary Clinton, leading to the widely held (among Republicans) conviction that she is corrupt and dangerous. So he can access the Far-Right ethos of defending America by force of arms against those other Americans who are seen as threats. And yet he can deny that he meant to incite violence. It’s all the fault of the liberal media, he claims.
Even Trump can’t just come out and say that Hillary ought to be killed, but he’s still clumsy as a dog-whistler. Southern Republicans have learned to be quite subtle in keeping minorities under control. Unlike the old-time Southern Democrats of the Jim Crow era, you’ll never find a modern Southern Republican anywhere near a suggestion of violence. They control the legal system in their states, and everything they do is legal.
The Donald doesn’t quite get that.