Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bang, Bang

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible."
Donald Trump, speaking at Dordt College
While this statement has lit up the news media, and people are busy being shocked, shocked, that he said such a thing, Mr. Trump is merely pointing out something that has been true of American society for as long as there has been a United States, not to mention humanity in general - when people want something from you, they'll forgo hold you accountable for things in order to get it.

We have seen this in celebrity culture over and over - motion picture stars or recording artists time and again getting away with things that would land most of the rest of in jail or put an end to our future career prospects. It's common enough that the uproar over Donald Trump making that point doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure, Mr. Trump chose a particularly graphic and extreme example, and we're unaccustomed to people openly making the point that they're popular enough to get away with assault with a deadly weapon, but he wouldn't be the first person, and wouldn't be the last, to be popular enough that people would look the other way.

Of course, Mr. Trump's statement is unlikely to be literally true - and it's just as unlikely that he honestly expects that it would be. But it's the sort of over-the-top and bombastic statement that he's become known for, and it part of the reason why so many of his supporters back him. Again, he's ignoring social convention (or "political correctness," as Trump himself might term it), and simply making the point in a way people understand. And he's pretty much correct in the overall sentiment, which is that his backers don't really care about the things that they're being told about him by his critics, and are choosing to stand by him.

Donald Trump's candidacy is showing more staying power than many people would have thought it ever could, and in doing so is beginning to shake up the American political scene. It will take more than him making a throwaway remark about shooting someone to change that.

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