Belmont Club

Recon By Fire

The Left may be on the verge of thinking they’ve shut down Donald Trump when they’ve done the opposite. Jenna Johnson writes in the Washington Post:

For months, Trump has been able to control — and often use to his advantage — the hundreds of protesters who show up to his rallies to oppose rhetoric they consider divisive, racist and hateful. …

But Trump could not control the protesters who showed up by the thousands to his rally Friday night at the University of Illinois at Chicago. … “We stopped Trump!” the protesters at the rally chanted after the event was canceled, pumping their fists into the air. “We stopped Trump! We stopped Trump!”

Perhaps what the Left have really done, as predicted, is supercharged his campaign — and they’re doing it again. The day after the Trump rally in Chicago was canceled, Trump was rushed by a protester in Dayton Ohio. (Video here).  It will probably gain him a few more polling points.

The result may be a wave of sympathy support for Trump. He is now the Man in the Arena, the guy on center stage.  Voters who were formerly content to compare one candidate’s policies to another may now feel emotionally compelled to take his side in the showdown with leftist muscle.  What the Left has done is give the limbic brain a chance to overpower the cerebrum.

History is filled with incidents that so starkly frame the narrative that they compel a gut decision:  Concord Bridge, the Reichstag Fire, and the Amritsar Massacre to name only a few.  Some of these pivotal incidents, like Concord and Amritsar, were genuine.  Others were contrived.  As a result, the outcomes varied.  Sometimes the litmus moments led to the right thing at the right time; other times it led to “the wrong man for the right reasons”.

The Trump phenomenon is especially interesting because it is the joint creation of Leftist fantasies and populist reaction.  The image of Trump represents what the Left think he is; what they would prefer to fight.  Trump is the distillation of all that gives their anger meaning.  Sanders’ supporters, having chosen their candidate, also want to select their opponent.  In that way the tableau is complete and the psycho-drama can proceed.  This is the Boss-level fight.  Whether the image represents reality or not is oddly beside the point.

But the cerebrum has had its input too. Although it may hardly seem so, in one respect this is the best election cycle ever.  The one clear benefit of this conflict-filled campaign season is the information it has thrown up.  The chaos has forced candidates to abandon their scripted paths and into unplanned encounters. We see them as they are, with their focus-group crafted speeches and  professionally written zingers left by the wayside.

It is often forgotten, in this age of overhead reconnaissance and ISR, that people used to find out what was over the next hill by sending a luckless patrol over or firing and seeing if anything fired back.  Those who formerly believed there was no one in the Leftist or Populist woods must now see they are full of hostiles.

In the process these encounters have yielded up a trove of insights that the spin-doctors would otherwise have smoothed over. Candidates that looked good — or bad — on paper are put to the test in ‘combat’.  Events are like a shock test and from their results we know more of what Sanders,  Clinton, Trump, Cruz and Rubio really are.  Though we might not like what we see,  there is more to examine.

The results are the mixed picture one would expect.  What all the meeting engagements, chance encounters, retreats under fire, advances under doubt of the campaign reveal is a map of strengths and weaknesses in a less-than-perfect array of candidates.  No one is the perfect package of guts, intellect, character, truthfulness and acumen one would like.  But if one tries hard enough, it might just be possible to find what you can live with.

There is no Santa Claus, Virginia.  However, there are Bernie, Hillary, Donald, Ted and Marco.  Now which one will it be?

Follow Wretchard on Twitter.

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