It has recently come to the attention of this column that Americans are angry. Especially the Republicans, but Bernie’s people, too.
Republicans are so angry that 30-odd percent of them are voting for Donald Trump to run the country—the same impulse presumably that grabs a 5-year-old to scribble over a page of her coloring book because her crayon drifted outside the line. This 30-odd percent is viewed in the Trump camp as a mandate from the people, and Trump himself warns of riots if he comes up short of the 1,237 delegates necessary for an outright spot on the ballot, and is not given the nomination anyway. It may not need to be pointed out by now that warnings from the mouth of Donald Trump sound more like suggestions all the time.
In any case, the Trump camp says that sending the convention into overtime if Trump has not won on the first ballot—allowing a “contested convention”—amounts to his backers being “disenfranchised” by the Republican establishment. Among the loudest of the talking heads who agree with this view is Sean Hannity over at Fox News. Hannity, who sometimes speaks of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as if they were the same person, says he will walk out of the convention if the sentiment begins to drift away from the frontrunners, and take as much of the conservative side of the Republican Party as he can with him. Sean, usually the best-behaved boy in class, is suddenly showing signs of not getting along with other Republicans. Somebody should subtly find out if something is wrong at home.
Meanwhile, as it happens, we have a split right here in the column business. It bothers the grouchy, right-wing conservative wing of the column to admit it, but Mr. Hannity has not thought this one through to the finish. There is some doubt that he has even begun thinking at all.
Posit the worst case. The orange, pecker-bragging—I guarantee there’s no problem (with the size of the candidate’s organ) I guarantee—hip-shooting, five-handicap (golfer) is somehow conceded the nomination despite being, say, 10 delegates short on the first ballot. Who is “disenfranchised” then? What happens to the 60-odd percent of Republicans who not only voted for somebody besides Donald Trump, but specifically and in vast numbers voted against Donald Trump?
It is arguably the flaws of the nomination process itself that have put Trump where he is anyway. There is a reason that 50 horses can’t run in the Kentucky Derby.
Meanwhile, not just the Trump backers are angry. The left side of this column witnessed anger from the other side this week at a rally for Bernie Sanders. Bernie is not only the most likable candidate left, but probably the toughest. In a street fight, I like his chances against Trump or Cruz, but maybe not Hillary. It depends, I think, on how much he loves his balls.
In any case, the left wing of this column attended Bernie’s rally at the San Diego Convention Center last Tuesday, where a reported 9,000 backers began crowding in four hours before the show started, with another several thousand more in a spillover area for those who couldn’t get in. And one snack bar, with a line about 50 yards long. Which would be reason enough right there for somebody to sucker-punch a stranger at Donald’s get-togethers.
The press was given an area to itself with metal gates so that nobody could sucker-punch them, and also to keep the riffraff out. There were chairs in the press pit, which matters more than you might think if you’re there for the whole five or six hours.
Between the press pit and the stage, there was a narrow space, perhaps three feet wide, and as the show itself got closer, a half-dozen volunteers began clearing the space. Among the volunteers was a small, pretty woman, 50 or so, with curly blond hair. Among the 9,000 spectators were three kids, maybe old enough to vote, maybe not—certainly not old enough to remember the Clinton presidency. They had been in the cleared area and left to go stand in line for French fries. They wanted to get back where they’d been.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “this area is closed.”
Two of the kids shrugged and started off. Number three, though, a tall kid with expensive clothes and a carefully arranged hairdo, didn’t move. You could tell he was a kid not used to being told where he could stand. He spoke in a condescending, whiny voice, but he could not bring himself to meet her eyes.
“We were right there,” he said, pointing to the area that the lady was trying to keep clear.
“I’m sorry, this area is closed now,” she said.
“But we were right there,” he said. He looked away, still couldn’t face her. Somehow, he couldn’t go away either. He looked at his friends for help, but they wanted no part of an argument. “We were right where all those people are who just went past.” He indicated a few people who had in fact slid past into the cleared area while he was arguing with the woman.
She told him no.
“You know,” he said, “there’s a right way to tell people things.”
And he turned on his heel and left.
And you might not have thought so, to watch the tall kid retreat with his friends, smirking in an incredulous way that did not hide his embarrassment, but as privileged and spoiled as he may have been, he was mad enough to vote for Donald Trump.