Since kicking off his presidential campaign in June 2015 with a speech that included infamous comments describing Mexicans as rapists and criminals, there have been concerns among his opponents as well as within the Republican Party that Donald Trump's rhetoric could trigger violence. Despite the long list of violent incidents at his rallies, in which racist, misogynist, and homophobic slurs are the norm, Trump insists that these things don't really take place. "There’s no violence," he told People in an interview. "It’s a media fabrication.” A video interview of Dan Bowman, one of the disciples hoping to make American great again, makes it it clearer than ever that the Republican standard bearer's words are indeed stoking dangerous ideas.
Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Bellini was at a Trump rally in Ohio on Thursday, where he asked Bowman to describe his current feelings about the election:
JB: How are you feeling right now about where things stand with the campaign?
DB: I feel like Hillary needs to be taken out. If she gets into government, I'll do everything in my power to take her out of power, which if I have to be a patriot, I will.
JB: What does that mean?
DB: Take it any way you want to take it.
JB: That sounds like a threat.
DB: What do you think a patriot is?
JB: Is that a physical threat?
DB: I don't know, is it?
As Bellini continues his questioning, Bowman says that he most likely "won't have to himself" since there will probably be a "movement" that will take Clinton out of power. When explicitly confronted about the way his words seem to justify the assassination of a president, Bowman answers with, "If she's corrupt, why should she be able to stay in office? Answer that question."
While this is not the first time Trump supporters have been caught on tape wishing death upon Clinton — numerous videos of his rallies show riled up audiences calling for her execution — this is the most disconcerting example of a Trump supporter's seriousness on the matter. It's one thing to be recorded yelling death wishes in the midst of a crowd, where the sense of anonymity might embolden some of these people to say things they may not truly mean. It's an entirely different matter for a person to stand as an individual and tell a television reporter that they are prepared to take possibly violent action to topple a presidency they don't like.
The Trump campaign disavowed these comments, stating that they "reject violence in any form," but going on to end the statement with, “Those who hold unacceptable views do not represent the millions of Americans who are tired of the rigged Washington system that will make their voices heard at the ballot box on Nov. 8.”
These repeated claims of a rigged election have the genuine capacity to rile up the most fervent section of Trump supporters, who have been unhappy with the two terms of Obama's presidency, have followed this campaign for over a year, and are convinced their problems are caused by immigrants, women, sexual minorities, and political correctness.
Bowman is a terrifying example of what happens when a politician capitalizes on groups with no outlet for their anger and the lack of knowledge to easily discern fact from fiction. With Election Day quickly approaching, and with Trump not showing any signs of changing his rhetoric, it's concerning to see how the mood among his supporters is changing. One thing we can hope for is that the GOP will learn from the disastrous effects their nominee has had on their party and work to address how these divisions can be remedied in the future.