Last night the news was all about Donald Trump canceling a yuge campaign rally amid fierce confrontations between Trump supporters and Trump protesters as thousands protested outside the University of Illinois’ Chicago Pavilion arena Friday and hundreds of other protesters infiltrated the rally. As the New York Times reports, Sen. Ted Cruz put the responsibility right where it belongs saying “protesters who took violence into their own hands” were responsible for the episode but Donald Trump bore responsibility for “creating an environment” that encourages violence at his events:
“But in any campaign, responsibility starts at the top,” Mr. Cruz continued. “And when you have a campaign that disrespects the voters, when you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, when you have a campaign that is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discourse.”
Cruz went on to predict that future skirmishes were likely, and invoked the protests and violent police run-ins at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago saying, “When the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that it escalates, and today is unlikely to be the last such instance.” I’m old enough to remember watching the police battle the protesters in the streets in clouds of tear gas as part of the news coverage of 1968 Democratic National Convention. We surely don’t want that at the 2016 Republican National Convention. :
“There’s no doubt that a candidate bears responsibility for the culture that is set from the top and you know, my approach, listen, it comes from how you view the voters,” Cruz told radio host Hugh Hewitt late Friday:
Donald demands of the voters that they stand up and pledge their allegiance to him, pledge that they would vote for him. As I mentioned last night, I think that gets it exactly backwards. This is a job interview. You know, kings and queens demand of their subjects that they pledge allegiance to them, but in America, we don’t pledge allegiance to men. We pledge allegiance to the flag. We pledge allegiance to the Constitution. But we don’t pledge allegiance to men. And this is very much, each of us should be asking to work for 330 million Americans. And what I am doing is pledging my allegiance to you.
Cruz also explained how he has dealt with protesters:
And part of that is reflected on how you approach protestors, because if you are the monarch from on high, then the protestor is disloyal and needs to be cast out and punished. You know, my approach, often, Hugh, with protestors, is if they’re being civil, I’ll often engage with them. You know, we had an event up in Maine, a huge rally in Maine. There were several college kids that stood up and began protesting. And I said all right, stand up, tell me what your concern is, let’s talk about it, let’s talk about illegal immigration. Let’s talk about climate change. And I ended up having an impromptu ten minute debate with a protestor on substance, and said listen, if you don’t have a right to shout down this event. If you’re disruptive the police officers will escort you out. But if you want to engage in civil discourse, we can talk about it.
As Cruz put it that’s reflective of a candidate who views the voters with respect, not as potential subjects for a monarch.