Trump's Assassination Fantasy is Part of a Long History of Republican 'Eliminationist' Rhetoric

Context matters, and Trump was merely echoing the words of too many Republicans who've fantasized about using guns to eliminate government officials.
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Context matters, and Trump was merely echoing the words of too many Republicans who've fantasized about using guns to eliminate government officials.

In the age of social media and cable news, everything is up for debate. No matter how incontrovertible the topic, they always manage to find two sides. If Donald Trump suddenly blurted about the Earth being flat and that we shouldn't trade with Japan because ships would fall off the edge of the planet before reaching Tokyo, sortie after sortie of Trump surrogates would fan out across the cable news networks to defend it -- and cable news producers would allow them to do it. 

Such is the case with Trump's latest undisciplined blurt: "And by the way, if she gets to pick-- [booing] --if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. [audience members shouting] Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."

Throughout Tuesday evening and into Wednesday, every available Trump surrogate popped up like cystic acne all over cable news. Broadly speaking, the very fact that Trump's people were dispatched so vigorously offers an unspoken acknowledgment from the Trump camp that his remarks were bad enough to be worthy of a full-court press. 

However, the excuses were predictably lame. 

You're likely familiar with the list by now. Trump was joking. Trump didn't literally mean assassination -- he was talking about voting and activism. Or, there was Duncan Hunter who inexplicably defended Trump on CNN by observing how the GOP nominee is "inarticulate at times" and that he's not well-educated on "grammar." So much for having "the best words."

Anyone with functioning gray-matter knows what he said and what he meant. It's absolutely not about parsing and understanding the meaning of his obvious word usages; it's merely about grasping the context of the phrase "Second Amendment people" and the long-standing Republican penchant for engaging in eliminationist rhetoric. Author Dave Neiwert defined eliminationism like so:

Eliminationism: a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile, and ejection, or extermination.  

This is the context. This is what Trump was doing. He was engaging in a Southern Strategy-style dog whistle -- in this case, rather than stoking racial animosity, he was offering tacit permission to gun-fetishists who might be inclined to act upon their Hillary (or Obama) derangement. Naturally, he said it in a semi-flippant way as to provide exculpatory cover for himself, but the message was clear: If Hillary is elected, there's no other solutions to stop her judicial appointments... except for the Second Amendment people.

It turns out, Trump was hamfistedly referencing the same eliminationist awfulness we've observed for the last eight years and beyond.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN):

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us having a revolution every now and then is a good thing. And the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.”

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS):

“We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition.”

Chief of staff to former Rep. Allen West (R-FL):

“I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

Former Senate candidate Sharon Angle:

“I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who's in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical... Well it's to defend ourselves. And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems."

Senator Joni Ernst (timecode 6:56):

Former congressional candidate Rick Barber:

Congressional candidate Brad Goehring:

"If I could issue hunting permits, I would officially declare today opening day for liberals. The season would extend through November 2 and have no limits on how many taken as we desperately need to 'thin' the herd."

Congressional candidate Robert Lowry:

Lowry...held an event at a Broward County gun range during which he fired at a series of symbolic political targets, including a silhouette with his opponent Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's initials on it.

Erick Erickson:

"Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation."

Dick Morris:

"Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case."

Radio host Pete Santilli:

"I’m not calling for — well, yes I’m calling for the military to restore our Republic. Is it a military coup? I would say that it’s probably the most orderly fashion to do this."

Congressional candidate John Stone:

"My forefathers used a cannon like this to fight the British in Savannah and win us a constitution. As the only licensed firearms dealer in America running for Congress, I’m willing to do the same if we have to."

Senator Rand Paul shooting the U.S. Tax Code:

Congressional candidate Will Brooke shooting "Obamacare":

Alex Jones on CNN:

Before we wrap up, here's perhaps the most chilling example of eliminationist rhetoric and its potential impact:

 Are we really supposed to believe they're all just kidding or speaking metaphorically about using bullets instead of ballots? Do any of the above quotes sound like jokes to you?

And out of the entire rogues gallery of irresponsible characters, Alex Jones has spent years at the vanguard of the armed revolution movement, most memorably during the Bundy Ranch standoff when he used public airwaves to frantically cheerlead the Bundy throngs who indeed marched toward BLM officials in a traditional Napoleonic line of battle while a militia sniper took aim at government employees from a nearby perch.

Fact: there's a not insignificant percentage of gun-owners who seriously believe in the idea -- the alleged constitutional right to use their firearms against government officials. The syllabus of quotes listed above is just a sampling of evidence illustrating the reality that radical gun-rights people think they can fight their way to freedom against, as Sharron Angle said, "tyrannical" politicians, especially if their right to own a gun is infringed upon. We're not making this up, nor are we misinterpreting these quotes. The facts are unequivocal. And Donald Trump was simply joining the battalion. 

On this matter, there's no debate. There aren't two sides to the issue. There's only one obvious analysis and it's this: Donald Trump thought he'd throw some red meat to his loyalists by hinting with a wink that pro-gun radicals are the last bulwark to stop Hillary's agenda. It's the same train of thought that's been marketed by too many others, and it must not be legitimized nor rewarded through televised debate or flaccid attempts at manufacturing reasonable doubt.