Recently, Donald Trump and his campaign have been everywhere. On the news, on social media, it seems that one cannot escape discussions of The Donald’s supposed role in inciting violence at his rallies.
However one feels about Trump, his policies or his grandstanding, the fact remains that he, like every other citizen, enjoys First Amendment rights. Among them is the right to peaceably assemble.
In recent days, however, far-left disrupters have come to protest Trump events with the stated purpose of disrupting and preventing the fulfillment of such events.
Rather than an affirmation of First Amendment rights, these protests are designed to squash the First Amendment rights of rally attendees.
In short: Bernie Sanders should host his own rallies and Trump should be allowed to host his. It is a dangerous precedent when one posits that another doesn’t have the right to speak. If Sanders’ followers want to attend, sit or stand quietly and learn something, I’m sure Mr. Trump would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issues of the day.
While it would be understandable for political opponents of Trump to politicize this situation, what candidates should not do is suck-up to those who attempt to bully political opponents into silence.
In a move designed to appear clever, Florida Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio coddled the protesters who came to disrupt his rally by promising them that they would not be beaten up at his rallies- a coy reference meant to imply that Trump’s followers are out-of-line.
At a stump speech in Melbourne, Florida, the senator who is relying solely on winning Florida to stay relevant in the presidential race spotted a Bernie Sanders supporter in the crowd and quipped, “Don’t worry. You’re not going to get beat up at my rally!”
“If we return to those [conservative] principles and back them up with real ideas, there is no reason why the 21st century can’t be the greatest era in our history. That is what we have the chance to do together, in this generation, at this time in our history,” Rubio began. “But we have to do it now. We have to do it now in 2016. The price of failure is too high. If we lose this election, that means Hillary Clinton will be president, and that will be a disaster for America.”
The crowd booed at the notion of a Hillary presidency.
Spotting the Sanders supporter, Rubio joked,
“Or let me not leave him out. I don’t want him to feel lonely. Or Bernie Sanders to be president. Oh look, a Bernie Sanders sign. Don’t worry. You’re not going to get beat up at my rally!”
It is true that Trump has promoted anger as a key element of his campaign. However, in his defense, Americans should be angry after the past 7+ years of failed leadership.
It is also true that Trump is no First Amendment purist; his campaign has been allegedly involved in the assault of a female reporter who got too close to Mr. Trump and the billionaire has repeatedly pledged to crack-down on the freedom of the press if elected.
Still, though Trump is so very wrong about those issues, he is right in the assertion that he has a right to hold rallies that are not shut-down by outside disruptors.
Rubio has made it clear where he stands on this tremendous illustration of the vast social divide that is tearing America apart.