However apposite Hillary Clinton‘s description of some of Donald Trump‘s supporters as a “basket of deplorables” – and I, for one, entirely accept her epithet – it has such a ring to it that there’s a risk it will be adopted as a badge of honour by the very people that she’s vilifying.
Just over a hundred years ago, the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) set off for France and the Western Front. Legend has it that Emperor Wilhelm II, hearing the news, issued an order to “exterminate … the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army”.
Survivors of the victorious B.E.F. remembered the term used by Emperor Wilhelm, and ever after referred to themselves as the Old Contemptibles.
In today’s war of words, insults and accusations fly across the airwaves like bullets from the barrel of a Gatling gun.
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment”, Mr Trump said in his highly controversial, if largely incoherent, August 9th speech to supporters in North Carolina. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But — but I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day. If — if Hillary gets to put her judges — right now, we’re tied. You see what’s going on”.
The incoherence sometimes acts as a smoke screen – what was he really saying, when adding the phrase “maybe there is”, in this portion of his speech?
Trump has hinted that what he is leading is not so much a political party as a “movement”. In the same speech, he said:
“They said the place is already full. And Rudy just said man; I’ve never seen anything like that. Maybe a couple of days before an election, but this is what’s happening. Because of the fact we have a movement going, folks”.
The question may turn out to be, will the leader of this movement be prepared to play by the rules if he’s defeated on November 8th? Getting his retaliation in first, before the election has even been run, he said: “Well — and I will not tell you to vote 15 times. I will not tell you to do that, OK? (APPLAUSE) You won’t vote 15 times. But people will, they’ll vote many times and how that could’ve happened, it’s unbelievable”.
Ramping up the incitement, he added: “So, I just look at this, and I said that if she gets elected, she will cause the destruction of this country from within. Remember that. Remember that”.
Again, through the fog of war, the words “Remember that”.
It remains to be seen whether being dubbed Deplorables by Mrs Clinton will help to crystallise Trump’s ‘movement’, with as-yet-unforeseen consequences in the months and years following the election.
Read the full text of Trump’s August 9th speech here.