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CAMPAIGN VIOLENCE: Candidates Have Duty to Tamp it Down

Rise in Authoritarianism Said Key to Current Political Unrest

March 14, 2016       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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History is being made before our eyes.

Any student of history has seen it before: firebrand orator stirs up the crowd, the crowd goes wild, people of opposite opinions clash, blood flows, police move in, orator blames violence on somebody else, certainly not himself. "Who me?"

Country is thrown into chaos, firebrand orator claims to be the peacemaker who will keep the peace -- just vote for me, all your problems will be over.

The argument is on about who is responsible for the outbreak of violence Friday in St. Louis and at the University of Illinois arena.

Mr. Donald Trump certainly is rethinking his statements from several podiums: "Get 'em outta here," "take away his coat it's cold outside," "haul 'em out," "shut 'em up!"

And the latest: "Get a job!" an obvious indication the candidate has pigeonholed protesters as shiftless, unemployed troublemakers -- which some of course are but many may not be.

Reports that Trump studied Hitler's speeches seem to be right on; he even uses some of the same language as the German dictator did, as shown in English translations: "Make America (Germany) great again" "We don't win anymore;" "the world is laughing at us."

But now we hear that, a leftist group has taken responsibility for sending hundreds of young adherents of Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to the Chicago rally.

The Chicago chaos is reminiscent of the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention, a scene the nation's leaders certainly don't want to see repeated in 2016.

Ron Brownstein, the CNN political analyst, commented that the outbreak in Chicago had been pre-destined, that all signs had pointed to the escalation of emotions and worse. That development was obvious to any person with a knowledge of history, psychology and crowd reactions -- even if not witnessed personally.

On her March 11 show Rachel Maddow explains the political science behind the classic strongman political tactic of ginning up political violence in order for a politician to present that violence as a problem that needs to be solved.

There was a book title that could be symbolic of these trying times: "The Madness of Crowds." However, that deals mainly with investment hysteria.

More to the point is a paper presented by a four person team from Old Dominion University in Virginia in 2004. It is very applicable and should be required reading for all political and government types because it may be needed before this so-called campaign is over.

The paper's abstract states: "Since the end of the cold war, military forces have increasingly been required to manage crowds of people, some of which may quickly turn violent. Frequently, crowd researchers identify 'flashpoint' variables: environmental or social triggers that cause a crowd to become hostile."

Survey results indicated that crowd weapons, alcohol and drugs, crowd commitment, and crowd desperation may be flashpoints for violence.

Please see:

The question is: who in the 2016 Presidential Primary Election campaign array is going to show the leadership necessary to throw cold water on the hot political rhetoric and actions?

Trump has yet to make a broad statement of disapproval of the violence at rallies; he would do well to immediately call one of his "press conferences" to decry the violence and urge adherence to laws as well as moderate behavior. The Democrats in their own race should do the same.

Eminent physician Dr. Ben Carson moved into the Trump campaign, apparently in an effort to tone down the candidate's podium activities and put a more respectable face on his campaign. Whether Trump will respond to Carson's efforts is a serious question. He seems to believe the chaotic conditions enhance his following, and he may be correct in that regard.

Some political observers have judged the trend is due to a rise in authoritarianism.

Matthew MacWilliams writes in Politico Magazine: "In fact, I've found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump -- and it's not race, income or education levels: It's authoritarianism. That's right, Trump's electoral strength -- and his staying power -- have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it's very possible, that Trump's fan base will continue to grow."

Read more:

Today there is breaking news from the Republicans: a movement is underway to draft former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as a candidate or as a third party Independent splinter effort.

Obviously, that would create a better environment but would widen the opportunity for the Democrats to win -- something anathema to the GOP. So a Condi Rice run is doubtful. Already reportedly reluctant to enter the fray, Condi is too intelligent to punctuate her admirable career with a sad political footnote.


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June 24, 2019
by: Dave Rogers
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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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