In the week of October 22, at least fourteen packages containing pipe bombs were mailed to prominent Democrats and known Trump critics. The man arrested on suspicion of sending these devices, Cesar Sayoc, has been described by those who knew him as “troubled”, “crazed” and a “fanatical” Trump supporter.
Although no one was injured, the alleged perpetrator attacked the very concept of democracy. Simply put, the attacker felt that an appropriate response to differing political beliefs was death and terror.
This attack speaks to the tumultuous political times that the country has faced over the last two years. The polarising anger and hatred that has long fueled the fringes of politics has been personified by the alleged attacker. He is the typical political extremist who opts for terror and violence when faced with healthy criticism of his ideology.
Despite the unsuccessful attack, the days that followed led to fear and division at a crucial time in American politics. This was in large part due to President Trump’s reaction to the events that unfolded. To say his response was inadequate would be an understatement; it was divisive, contradictory, and hypocritical.
In a speech following the events, the President said: “Americans must unify and we must show the world we are united together in peace and love and harmony.” What could have been a dignified response was marred by other remarks made by Trump almost simultaneously.
A tweet saw the President possibly backing a far-right conspiracy theory which said the bombs were sent by left-wingers to create sympathy for Democrats prior to the midterm elections.
The tweet read: “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows- news not talking politics…”.
In a world that made sense, a callous tweet dismissing an attack on democracy would affect people’s support of Trump and his politics. This would be reflected in the upcoming midterm elections.
However, this is Trump’s America. This is a society where, according to a recent poll, roughly half of registered voters believe that Trump’s rhetoric contributes to political violence, while the other half blames the media. In a society as divided as this one, Trump supporters are unlikely to have any sympathy. Many are already calling this a liberal hoax. Everyone exists in their own echo chamber.
The only hope is that liberals who may have been on the fence about how to vote in the next presidential election in 2020 will be spurred to action by this attack on their beliefs.
Image: Michael Vadon