Last September I commented on Trump’s enduring popularity:
He’s not bound by conventions, unscripted, an outsider, supposedly, with an aura of machismo, and he hit a nerve with his opening salvo on immigration. None of which explains why Trump’s defenders forgive his support for partial birth abortion or his hob-nobbing with the Clintons.
I think I have an answer for that, and it’s not because Americans (or conservatives) are stupid or racist. My answer comes from Maurice Bloch’s Prey into Hunter, a book exceptionally annoying even by the French standards. I mentioned this book in the past a few times because, even though I can’t stand Bloch’s style, I value his insights. Looking at the hunting ritual in Africa, Bloch noted that hunters dress like prey and identify with prey in order to then go on an offensive against an animal in a hunt.
It’s not hard to notice similar rituals in the political world. A photo of a dead toddler washed up on the beach in Turkey is printed on the front pages of Western papers, bleeding hearts identify with the child (the Donald was among them for 5 minutes), demanding opening the borders to “refugees” without thinking through the consequences or even looking into the toddler’s story. (As Peter Hitchens pointed out, he was a victim of human traffickers.)
Back to Trump, when he burst into the race with his common sense remarks about Mexican illegals, the media, business and political elite all but declared a war on him. The perpetual defenders of the perpetually offended were screaming their heads off; Macy’s was dropping his merchandise, Univision was canceling his contracts. Any of that could happen to any one of us — if only we were so lucky. We identified with the Donald, the victim, not the underdog, but the victim; we wanted to stand up for him, we called for Macy’s boycotts.
It is now clear that playing victim is the businessman’s forte. After a half a year of dominating the media, Trump failed to consolidate the Republican majority, commanding about 35% of the primary vote. The Donald thought the masses would flock to power, that his candidacy would snowball, but we conservatives stood by our principles and he never gained momentum. So, in the desperate attempt to gather support prior to winner-take-all primaries, he plays his favorite trick again.
That Black Lives Matter, Move On and Bernies wanted to shut down the Trump rally in Chicago and that they gleefully took credit for shutting it down is not in dispute. At this point the totalitarian tendencies of the left are well established. Who gets credit for shutting it down is another issue. The Chicago Police Department denied recommending Trump to cancel the event. Trump himself canceled it to play the victim.
As many commentators pointed out, the candidate courted violence at his rallies, commenting that “in the old days” a protester would be “carried out in the stretcher” and that he’d like to punch somebody in the face. Not surprisingly, people were hurt at his rallies and a journalist was manhandled.
As per the script, shortly after the Chicago rally was canceled Trump felt empowered to go on offensive, intimidating Bernie supporters. The following tweet is now heavily promoted by Twitter:
While Trumpster might appeal to our sense of justice and our passion for the First Amendment, he himself is no staunch proponent of freedom of speech. He threatened the Chicago Cubs owners for funding a campaign against him and told us that he would like to open up liable laws to sue his critics. Before his presidential run, Trump blamed Pamela Geller for the jihadist attack at the Draw Mohamed event
Trump’s views on First Amendment do not annihilate his right to free speech. What I question is his status as a victim, our identification with him as a victim and our willingness to get defensive on his behalf. Our blood boils because some on the left assaults the First Amendment, but it should not matter if the target is Trump or anyone else. If the goal is to defend our natural rights, we should vote for a constitutional conservative leader like Ted Cruz, not an amorphous self-styled victim like Trump.
I’m not sure to what extent the Donald is aware of the effects of his strategies. It could be that he’s just doing what worked for him all his life. And what worked for him? What kind of person he is? Who plays victim? Donald is the kind of guy who, when standing on the podium, with all the lights on him, all microphones on, finds it necessary to make fun of a man with cerebral palsy. Tiny Fingers is nothing but a bully. When after months of igniting tensions he canceled his Chicago rally, Trumpster was leading from behind.
Will his strategy work? We’ll find out tomorrow.