“At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign,”
—Mayor Sam Liccardo, of San Jose, California, in response to rioting and violent attacks on Trump rally attendees after a Trump speech.
I am searching for some tangential benefits—silver linings in clouds of gray, so to speak—from the ugly choice of Presidential candidates being foisted on us. One benefit is that the situation is relentlessly exposing the flawed and in many cases deplorable character of various public figures, journalists, and others, including friends who we once thought had admirable integrity, values and principles. Most likely to expose the rot beneath are the hyper-partisans.
The anti-Trump riots in San Jose were shocking and inexcusable, except by the most unethical use of rationalizations and bias. Nonetheless, Liccardo’s immediate public response to them was to blame Donald Trump for, I guess, making Liccardo’s citizens viciously attack Trump supporters.
Contrary to what this abominable example of a city leader said, Trump shares no responsibility for the violence. Nothing in the “behavior” of his campaign can be fairly said to have justified it in any way. Suggesting otherwise, as Liccardo has, is blaming the victims, justifying violence, and encouraging intimidation as a political strategy. It should disqualify the mayor for leadership, of San Jose, of the local Rotarians. In trying to shift blame to Trump for having the audacity to express his political views,, he was demonstrating not only frighteningly warped ethics, but cowardice. The mayor doesn’t have the guts to tell his citizens that they were wrong, and to shape up.
Better, but still exposed as despicable, was Mike Casca, Sanders’s rapid response director,who tweeted that “we cannot stop Trump’s violent rhetoric with violence — only peaceful protest in a voting booth can do that.” None of Trump’s rhetoric has been “violent”—incoherent, foolish, dishonest, juvenile, ignorant and boorish yes, but not violent— so describing it like that is a lie, designed to minimize the violent conduct of his opposition.
Trump may be the greatest human ethics litmus test of all time. I know I’m keeping a list.