Trump, Young Activists on Dangerous Collision Path
This could end up in 1968 levels of violence, warns columnist
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2016 11:45 AM CST
In this Dec. 12 photo, a protester is removed during a Donald Trump town hall meeting in Aiken, SC.   (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)

(Newser) – Peter Beinart of the Atlantic sees a disturbing trend happening at Donald Trump campaign events, one that prompts this dire prediction: "The United States is headed toward a confrontation, the likes of which it has not seen since 1968, between leftist activists, who believe in physical disruption as a means of drawing attention to injustice, and a candidate eager to forcibly put down that disruption in order to make himself look tough." Beinart makes the case that young activists—perhaps in reaction to their "deep disillusionment" over President Obama's inability to right what they perceive to be society's wrongs—have grown increasingly willing in recent years to confront politicians more directly. Lots of politicians ignore such things as best they can, but Trump has embraced them "as an opportunity."

At campaign events, he seems to relish disruptions as protesters are escorted out. One memorable line: "You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher.” He turns the events "into a parable for how he would restore order in society at large," and it plays well with his supporters, writes Beinart. Generally speaking, Trump backers are an "authoritarian" bunch, meaning they despise disorder and want it quashed aggressively, and Trump gets this. The "young left-wing militants" likely won't let up, and neither will Trump. "How will Americans react if something truly terrible happens?" asks Beinart. "Given the events of recent months, it’s impossible to know." Click to read his full column.