Donald Trump keeps packing the powder keg: Keith Boag

Let's say Donald Trump wasn't slyly suggesting assassination as a way to stop a President Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices who would gut the Second Amendment. We're still left with Trump packing a little more gunpowder into his keg of incitements, Keith Boag writes.

Second Amendment/assassination controversy just the latest reckless statement from Republican nominee

Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump has been accused of making a veiled suggestion that assassination could stop a President Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices who would scrap the Second Amendment. (Reuters)

All right, let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

Let's say Donald Trump wasn't slyly suggesting assassination as a way to stop a President Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices.

Let's say he really was warning that Clinton will choose jurists for the Supreme Court who will effectively erase the Second Amendment unless gun rights supporters elect him president on Nov. 8.

Yes, forget that Trump was talking about what might happen after Nov. 8 if Clinton wins the election — "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know." Let's just agree he was talking about getting out the vote on election day.

We're still left with Trump packing a little more gunpowder into the keg of incitements that are the mainstay of his campaign rallies.

Donald Trump suggests 'Second Amendment people' can stop Hillary Clinton

7 years ago
Duration 2:29
Featured VideoDonald Trump repeated his claim at a campaign rally that Hillary Clinton is a threat to gun ownership, then seemed to imply gun owners should strike before she does.

The Second Amendment is arguably the clumsiest construction of 27 words in the U.S. Constitution.

It reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

In 2008, the Supreme Court read that to mean there is a constitutionally protected individual right to bear arms — other equally wise heads disagree, but that's how it stands. 

To some Americans, the Second Amendment is about the simple freedom to own weapons. To others, it's also vital to their personal security. To others still, it's those things plus the final guarantee of protection against a tyrannical federal government.

It's some in that last group who might be tempted to believe a Clinton presidency would abolish the Second Amendment not only to take away their freedom to own guns, but to take away their freedom — period.
The Second Amendment means different things to different people. To some, it's about the freedom to own guns, an individual's right to self-defence, as well as the final guarantee of protection against a tyrannical federal government. (Reuters)

Let's pause to remember that Clinton has never said she would abolish the Second Amendment; she has said the opposite. She does, however, promise stricter laws for gun ownership.

Trump's gun rights pitch has been at the core of his campaign almost since the beginning. Defending the Second Amendment was the second policy blurb to show up on his website last fall — just behind the promise of a wall on the southern border paid for by Mexico.

But frankly, if Trump becomes president, his views on gun rights won't make much difference in Washington.

The gun lobbies have proved their ownership of the issue many times and he's obviously not for changing that.

But what if Trump loses, as seems ever more likely? And what if fanatical gun-owning patriots — OK, let's say just one fanatical gun-owning patriot believes the election was rigged and stolen?

Rigged election

Trump is already trying to undermine the credibility of the election result, saying he wouldn't be at all surprised if it were "rigged" against him.

In the same North Carolina speech where he made his controversial aside about the Second Amendment this week, he also said this:

"You won't vote 15 times, but people will. They'll vote many times, and how that could have happened, it's unbelievable."

He was talking about a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state's voter ID law.

There is no credible evidence that voter impersonation is a widespread and persistent problem in the U.S., but a poll in North Carolina this week found 69 per cent of Trump supporters say if Clinton wins the presidency it will be because the election was rigged.

Sixty-nine per cent.

What else might they believe?

Trump has told them President Barack Obama and Clinton are the founders of ISIS — the barbaric Islamist murderers who chop off people's heads.
Trump isn't backing down from his claim that U.S. President Barack Obama is somehow the founder of ISIS. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

An interviewer suggested to Trump that he couldn't really mean that the president and former secretary of state were the founders of ISIS and invited him to reel it in a bit.

"No. I meant that he's the founder of ISIS. I do," Trump said.

Later, he added, "No, it's no mistake. Everyone's liking it. I think they're liking it."

Of course many Trump devotees are "liking it," they've already been told by you-know-who for many years that Obama is probably a Muslim born in Kenya.

'The devil'

How easily we can forget that Trump was the champion of the "birther" movement a few years ago, but it explains so much to remember that now.

Lately, Trump's been calling Hillary Clinton "the devil."

Clinton isn't as innocent as she pretends — she still doesn't tell the truth about her use of a private email server to handle confidential material as secretary of state — but the devil?
Trump has called his rival Hillary Clinton crooked, a liar and the devil. (Reuters)

Again with those North Carolina Trump supporters: 41 per cent say yes, she's the devil.

'Lock her up!'

When they line up to go into Trump rallies, his supporters are often friendly, cheerful individuals who can be quite chatty with a Canadian reporter about how their country is disappointing them.

Once inside, they can just as easily meld into a vulgar and violent mob. 

Protesters are punched, insulted and pushed around, sometimes at the well-documented encouragement of Trump. 

At the televised Republican National Convention in Cleveland, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie led the crowd into an almost rapturous chorus of "Lock her up! Lock her up!" while speaking about the former first lady, senator, secretary of state and Democratic candidate for president.

Chris Christie makes his 'case' against Clinton

7 years ago
Duration 1:48
Featured VideoNew Jersey governor speaks at Republican convention

"Lock her up! Lock her up!"

So does it really matter whether Trump has encouraged assassination?

He has already told his flock that Hillary Clinton is crooked, a liar and an ISIS MVP who will take away their constitutional right to defend their freedom just as soon as she wins an election that's already been rigged by the courts.

If you truly believe all that, what extreme reaction to her election wouldn't seem rational?

The powder keg is packed. All that's left, it seems, is for someone to strike the match that lights it up.

Republicans have chosen just such a man.


Keith Boag

American Politics Contributor

Keith Boag writes about American politics and issues that shape the American experience. Keith was based for several years in Los Angeles and now, in retirement after a long career with CBC News, continues to live in Washington, D.C. Earlier, Keith reported from Ottawa, where he served as chief political correspondent for CBC News.