Why It Doesn’t Matter What Donald Trump Says or Why

The story around Donald Trump’s supposedly off-the-cuff remarks. During one of his rallies leading into his election day battle against Hilary Clinton, he had these words about the dangers of a Clinton presidency in regards to gun rights:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the second amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The obvious arguments immediately began on all the media outlets, blogs, and social networks: was Trump inciting violence against Hilary Clinton or referring to the NRA’s strength as a political organizing force or simply making a stupid joke?

Through the arguments for and against one opinion or another we’re loosing the real problem with what he said: it does not matter what he meant. It doesn’t matter if Trump was making a stupid joke. It doesn’t matter if he was talking about Get Out The Vote for gun rights supporters. It doesn’t matter because the threat isn’t one Donald Trump makes, but one he creates an environment for. Even as a candidate, not yet (and hopefully never) president, his words have power on their own. It isn’t clear if he’s ignorant of the force of his speech among his followers or simply negligent, but when Trump says “Jump!” you can bet someone’s going to end up in the air. When he tells his supporters to punch protestors in the face it actually happens.

But the danger of Trumps words don’t come from threats or willful instigations. The most dangerous thing about Trump’s words aren’t what he intends, because the most dangerous things about Trump’s rhetoric are the out-comes he doesn’t intend, doesn’t anticipate, doesn’t even comprehend when the words are coming out of his mouth. Someone who incites violence on purpose will still meter their words to avoid consequence. The most dangerous is the one who can stumble into violent incitements as a joke or, perhaps even worse, without even realizing the weight of the interpretations of those words.

The most dangerous thing about Donald Trump is that he does not know how dangerous he is. He is a child with a pellet gun, playing at sheriff and shooting his siblings thinking his toys can’t do any real harm. This is both the greatest danger of Trump as a candidates, when he can incite violence simply by the buzz of his campaign. With that willful ignorance of his own actions, as a president Donald Trump would be in danger of inciting more than a punch to the face, or even the assassination of a fellow presidential candidate. Without even realizing it, he could incite a state to war, lone agents to actions to mass destruction, and spark fires his own words could never extinguish.

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