Listen Now:



1921

Convert or Die: Living in the Age of Trump

By  |  March 19, 2016, 10:39am

Last night, as my family went to bed, a man in a car parked just down our driveway. He and his coworker roaming the neighborhood are the security now part of my life. It is the age of Trump.

In 2011 and 2012, I actively campaigned against Mitt Romney. In November of 2011, I had written that Romney would lose to Obama and conservatives would get blamed. That happened. He was a terrible candidate. But Romney supporters, despite vigorous disagreement, were not hurling threats my way or toward my family. They were not calling advertisers to my radio station making threats.

In fact, the only time I have ever experienced what is now happening is from far left activists outraged over my position on gay marriage. Those radical gay rights activists have appeared once or twice in my neighborhood. They have hounded advertisers and made threats. I’ve even once been swatted.

But even these radical activists were not as aggrieved or angry as Trump supporters. The new reality in which my family and I live is that of going to bed at night with security parked at the end of the driveway and our movements more regulated for our own protection.

In the Age of Trump, the worst and basest instincts of humanity are on display. Like the Islamic radicals they rail against, Trump supporters have adopted a “convert or die” attitude. They will not persuade you to the merits of Trump. They will not defend Trump. They will harass you, censor you, wish for your death, and threaten to kill you if you do not convert.

Donald U Akbar.

Here, for example, is one person who left this marvel at my radio station. This is one of the tame ones I can play on my radio show. This person, you will hear, left one message and then felt so emboldened that he called back. This was at the start of last week when I was on air fighting bronchitis and pneumonia.

The even more striking thing about that audio is that, having played it on radio, Trump supporters called and made two distinct claims. The first was that it was a fraud and I had a friend do it. The second was that the man never mentioned Trump so I was clearly implying it was a Trump supporter with no evidence.

Then there is this gem from a lady in Wyoming. Mind you, my radio show is a local show in Atlanta, GA. But she will not be deterred.

It is worth noting that I have never really experienced this from Obama supporters. Nor have I experienced it from Romney supporters when I actively opposed his nomination.

This comes from a dark, angry place. It comes from a place in the shadows. Many of these people have been only barely active in politics. It is clear from conversations they do not know the lay of the land. “Establishment” is their rallying cry, where their usage of that word means people who oppose Trump, as opposed to the reality of the word. Few of them know their local congressman. Few have been involved in outside conservative groups trying to force the GOP to do the right thing.

But they are angry. Trump has given them someone to rally to and they identify with him and clearly feel they can be as vulgar and abusive as him. Perhaps because it works so well for Trump they think it will work well for them too.

So the rest of us must convert or die. There will be no campaign pitch. There will be no artful persuasion. As they are already announcing on social media, people will either have to get on their “Trump train” or get run over. The result will actually wind up being a bunch of people committed to blowing up the rails.

Americans do not convert or die, and that is why the Trump movement is fundamentally not an American movement. It is an aggressively authoritarian movement championed by people who think desperate times call for desperate measures. It will end badly for many.

The media, which fed the beast, will be consumed by it. The free airtime, once gone in the general, will show the biases of the press to Trump supporters and they will come with boycott and violence. Trump and his cheerleaders too will not fare well when, should Trump decide he must pivot to build a general election coalition, betrays his radicals.

As for conservatives, our ways are not their ways. We do not have to take the “convert or die” attitude. We do not have to wish death or make death threats or call for boycotts or hound people from their jobs and careers. We just need to keep pointing out basic truths. The Trump phenomenon will eventually consume itself. It is a wildfire that will run out of fuel. The problem for the nation, however, is that it will wreck havoc across the land before doing so. And it is clear, for now, Donald Trump does not care.

UPDATE: The Trump supporters have weighed in.