The other day, as I mentioned, I was with my cousin, and during our conversation I mentioned to him that I thought the week from hell with three massacres was a turning point in the public reaction towards Trump and the Republican Party. To be clear, I said it was not THE turning point -- there are far too many curves in the road for that yet -- but another of those markers along the way, like Charlottesville, that have changed perceptions. It was different than other shootings and other horrific Trump events which have occurred because there were factors leading up to it, and there being three events was different, and there is also an aftermath. So, unlike other single events, this has a beginning, middle and end. It’s a story, a narrative that the public can follow and take meaning from it.
I said that before the three shootings we had weeks of Trump slamming the four minority Congresswoman and then himself being attacked (and still attacked) for his racist language to go back where you’re from. And then pushing his crowd on this, to the point of the chanting “Send them home.” And his rally in Florida where he wondered what can be done about those four Congresswomen, and the shout came “Shoot them!” and he laughed it off and made a joke of it.
And after that was established and confirmed in our public conscience, with the discussion about Trump's words being primordially racist, then came the foundation of it all: we didn’t have a shooting, or a massacre as has happened far too often in the past – but three of them. Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton. Massacre, massacre, massacre. There wasn’t time to let it pass, fall through the cracks, it’s too soon to talk politics about this, it was overwhelming and pounding. Further, unlike in the past, one of the shooters wrote a screed that placed his inspiration directly on Trump.
And on top of all this, we’re in the middle of a presidential campaign, with 24 Democrats on the campaign trail, none of whom are going to have any intention of letting this fall through the cracks. They have picked it up and are going to continue pounding it. In the last debate, there was a criticism that the candidates were going after themselves, rather than the true opponent, Trump. I don't believe that there will be an issue anymore. Yes, they were still try to differentiate themselves from another and particularly whoever is leading, but it will always be with Trump there now in full focus.
Which brings us to the third act. In the past, the aftermath could always be obfuscated by the NRA, passing blame, attacking others. But at this point in time the NRA is on its heels. It’s finances are in shambles. It fired its PR firm and spokesperson. It shut down NRA TV. It is being investigated for moneylaundering from Russia – and there are reports its tax exempt status is being investigated for buying a $4 million house for its head, Wayne LaPierre. They don’t have as much money to donate to GOP candidates. They won’t be able to get money from Russia. And I sense in most districts that aren’t pure Red that GOP candidates won’t be able to proudly campaign with an endorsement from the NRA. The point being that there is a long-term effect from all these that we haven’t even seen or touched on yet, but will come into play next year.
So, yes, I very much feel this is “a” turning point, that’s it’s different from other events in the past. And all those other events also now culminate together with this one. Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Charleston, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando…on and on and more.
And the thing is, this is not going to get better from Trump and the Republican Party. He's not going to apologize. They're not going to pass a meaningful gun control measure. (And if for some unlikely reason they do, it will infuriate their base.) Trump is going to be just as racist and hate-filled -- like, oh, having just proposed limitations on even now legal immigrants -- and as divisive and cruel at this rallies, feeding off the hate and white supremacy there. And...and it's gruesome to think it, let alone say it, but God help us there will be another mass shooting. And most likely several others, just as there have been almost regularly. The past week alone there already have been two major arrests involving huge arsenals held by those who have ranted on behalf of Trump talking points. And these will all feed in the public mind on what has just happened and come in the 2-1/2 years before, and all the more so because Trump and the Republicans. despite their deeply-empty words, will have done nothing to change it and have even continued the racist hatred and divisiveness, in the end giving white supremacy and its attendant violence and domestic terrorism a sense of understood acceptance. And those hate-driven words will continue because at its head Trump won't be changing, it's who he is and has been all his life since even before he was sued by the government in 1973 for racist business practices, since 1989 when he took out of a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty of five black youths for a crime it turned out they didn't commit, since 1992 when Trump's hotel and casino in New Jersey was fine $200,000 for racial prejudice and on on and on. And the GOP elected officials won't change, they've gone all-in with Trump, and they are forced to keep enraging their racist base. That's how they've governed, that's all they have now. It's two of the core steps of fascism -- xenophobia and violence. Those are the few remaining cards Trump and they are holding. It's all they can play with.
(Sorry, I just said that there "already have been two major arrests of huge arsenals..." but 30-seconds after writing this late last night I read a story of a young man from Texas who was just arrested for threatening to blow up a plane. So, make it three.)
It’s not THE turning point. But, yes, I think it’s significant. For those reasons. The atmosphere across the country feels different. The tone, the words, the reactions seem different. The public debate seems different. The public anger towards it all feels different.
And how bad is this issue for the Republican Party?
When MSNBC did their 2-hour special a week ago about the three gun massacres they invited 30 Republican senators on to talk about it…and ALL 30 refused. Because they are paralyzed, they have nothing to say, they can’t defend guns or anything about the situation because the three shootings are so ghastly, they know that saying “video games” and “mental illness” to anyone other than their own crowd will be met with angry derision, and they can’t criticize guns because it will infuriate the NRA and their base. So, they have nothing to say. And Democrats will rightly be pounding them on it. So, they are lost, floundering. And that is part of the turning point.
No, it is not THE turning point. But you can see it from here...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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