Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
Trump’s violent rhetoric on the campaign trail breeds real-life violence, leading to a spike in assaults wherever Trump makes an appearance.
That’s the conclusion of a new study, which found that cities experienced an increase in assaults on days when they hosted a Trump campaign rally. There was no corresponding link between the incidence of violence and rallies for Hillary Clinton.
“It appeared to be a phenomenon that’s unique to Donald Trump’s rally,” said Christopher Morrison, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and lead author of the study.
The study, published in the journal Epidemiology, looked at data on assaults surrounding 31 rallies in 22 cities for Trump, and 38 rallies in 21 cities for Clinton.
Comparing the number of assaults on the day of the rally to the number on the corresponding day of the week for the four weeks before and after the rally, the researchers found that cities had an average of 2.3 more assaults on the day of a Trump campaign rally than on a typical day.
The association between Trump’s rallies and increased violence remained significant even after controlling for factors such as population size, day of the week, and weather conditions.
“This research provides evidence that this increase in assaults is associated with candidate Trump’s rallies leading up to the election,” said co-author Dr. Douglas Wiebe.
“In order to prevent the threats to public health due to violence, it is important to understand the underlying motivations and etiologies of violent behavior,” the study authors wrote.
While the research is based on rallies during the 2016 presidential election, the findings take on new meaning as Trump prepares to hit the campaign trail ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
As the researchers noted, violence was a common occurrence at Trump’s rallies.
In March 2016 alone, a Trump campaign rally in Chicago was canceled after violent clashes broke out, and anti-Trump protesters were assaulted at rallies in North Carolina and Arizona. In the Arizona incident, Trump had singled out the protester — calling him a “disgusting guy” — before he was punched and kicked while being escorted out of the rally.
At the same Arizona rally, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, was caught on video grabbing the collar of a protester and yanking him backwards.
Reporters and photographers were also threatened and physically assaulted at multiple rallies.
In March 2016, Lewandowski “forcibly” grabbed a female Breitbart reporter, “nearly bringing her down to the ground,” when she attempted to ask a question at a campaign event in Florida. The month before that, an acclaimed photographer for Time magazine was body-slammed by a secret service agent as he tried to take pictures of protesters at a Trump rally in Virginia.
Members of the press publicly expressed their fear about the increasing hostility they faced at Trump rallies. Eventually, it got so bad that reporters had to be escorted by security when they covered the events.
But as the new study found, violent incidents also occurred elsewhere in the cities where rallies were held. The researchers suggested that Trump’s violent rhetoric, which was widely covered on television and social media, may have contributed to the spread of violence.
“Violent language may have affected the mood and behavior of rally attendees, as well as those exposed to the rally through news reports and social media,” said Dr. Wiebe.
On stage at events, Trump often egged on his supporters and encouraged the use of violence. At one point, he even promised to pay legal fees for anyone who “knock[ed] the crap out of” protesters. He later said that he was looking into paying the legal fees for a supporter who was caught on video sucker-punching a protester during a rally.
Trump also expressed nostalgia for the “old days” when protestors would be “carried out on a stretcher,” and suggested at one rally that a protester “should have been roughed up.” In November 2016, Trump singled out a protester at a rally and told the crowd that he would “like to punch him in the face.”
Throughout all of this, surrogates for Trump defended and even applauded the assaults on protesters.
With the 2018 midterms approaching, Trump is planning to take to the campaign trail on behalf of Republican candidates — and if his recent rally for defeated GOP candidate Rick Saccone is any indication, the rhetoric will be just as heated as it was during the 2016 campaign.
And now we know that Trump’s unhinged rants are not just politically toxic — they’re also toxic to our nation’s health.