Mar 14, 2016
Donald Trump held a rally in the middle of Chicago, on the campus of a university where most students are the children of recent immigrants, many from Mexico or of Muslim descent. Earlier in his campaign, he had suggested that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists. He also called for a ban on Muslim immigration.
Not surprisingly, thousands of young people and others turned out to protest, both inside and outside the arena where Trump was scheduled to speak. When the protesters overwhelmed the rally, Trump’s organization announced that they were cancelling the event, and those who came to hear him left angry. Protesters chanted, “We stopped Trump!” Fistfights broke out inside the arena and the police stepped in to separate the two sides.
The next day, Trump wrote on Twitter: “The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!”
At the same time that he crowed about the “energy” that his own provocation injected into the country, he pretended to be shocked by what it revealed. After the rally, Trump told a news show host: “We have a country that’s so divided that maybe even you don’t understand it. I’ve never seen anything like it. And this has been going on for years. And on one side you have people that haven’t been able – haven’t had a pay increase in ten years frankly, and the businesses are moving out of the country, and they’re upset and they’re angry. And the other side, you have people that feel differently about other elements. And it all comes together, and you see it all over. You see it here. You see it in lots of different locations. And there’s a lot of anger in the country. And it’s very sad to see, actually.”
Trump’s vision has the working class divided up into two sides. He has a political platform that appeals to the most reactionary prejudices in the population in order to explain why they are unemployed, poor, and struggling. He suggests that those who oppose his racism are just thugs who “feel differently” about the terrible economy, as if they are somehow benefitting from what the bosses have done. No doubt he will find a way to spin what happened into support for his policies.
Those who are drawn to Trump have far more in common with the protesters that Trump tells them to “take out,” than with this racist billionaire. While he speaks in a rhetoric that is attractive to the prejudices of many white workers, he is himself a part of the ruling class that exploits us all.