It was Intimidation

More on a dangerous and disturbing incident in Texas

Photo from Twitter

To further contextualize and discuss the incident in Texas that James Joyner noted this morning, let’s start with this video that includes the collision of one of the pro-Trump trucks and a car that was escorting the bus:

If you watch carefully, the black truck that hit the white Biden campaign SUV was at fault having come up from the right of the SUV behind the bus and then positioned itself there to force the white car over. I have seen attempts to say that the SUV was trying to run the truck off the road, but the black truck is clearly the aggressor above, in my opinion. (Also any attempt to blame the SUV ignores the dangerous group behavior of the trucks that out the bus and any vehicles around it in clear danger).

I am going to have to say that this, to me, is plain and simple an attempt to use what amounts to a threat of violence to intimidate a political opponent. And, further, when I first saw this yesterday, it struck me as clearly the kind of behavior that President Trump himself has encouraged with his rhetoric, dating back to the 2016 campaign and during the 2018 campaign season.

In fact, I called his violent rhetoric “radicalizing” at the time in lengthy post with numerous examples. Of the things I said at the time, this fits the present moment rather directly:

This is the President of the United States we are talking about here.  The human being with the largest megaphone in the United States, if not the world.  He has turned the bully pulpit into a literal tool of bullying.  

And, as James noted, Trump did nothing to disabuse me of this assessment. He is helping to further this radicalization and is, indeed, using his position to praise bullying:

And no, we can’t pretend he was just praising trucks with Trump flags. Even in this video, they are surrounding the bus in an unsafe and clearly intimidating manner. And the notion that he was ignorant of the rest of event is not credible.

As such, the question asked by the first tweet is quite clear: they have been radicalized (and I think that the appropriate terms) by Trump and his media allies.

This is an attempt to terrorize a political opponent and needs to be fully identified as such.

And if you were driving a vehicle and a swarm of trucks surrounded you in an coordinated effort, would you not feel intimidated?

When you throw on top of all of this Allen West’s response, which James noted but I will repeat, it just hits next level awful, because it shows that the head of the Texas GOP is irresponsible and is endorsing the intimidation:

Abby Livingston from The Texas Tribune reached out to the RPT today and asked a question about a Biden campaign bus in her attempt to portray conservatives as violent radicals, even though it is leftists from Antifa and BLM who have been assaulting, robbing, and looting fellow citizens and their property.

Below is Chairman Allen West’s response:

“Three Trump supporters have been executed, one in Portland, one in Denver, and one Milwaukee. A leftist mob attempted to storm the house of the McCloskeys, threatened to burn their house down, rape Mrs. McCloskey, and then kill them both.

Where is the liberal corporate media’s concern about that real violence? Additionally, none of what your question implies is accurate. It is more fake news and propaganda.

Prepare to lose…stop bothering me. Maybe Soros can cut y’all another check in 2022.”

I read that last night and it was so off the chain that despite the fact it is clearly posted on the Texas GOP web page, I almost couldn’t accept that it was real, or reasoned that because it was late when I read it so that maybe I was missing something.

But, nope. This is truly unacceptable behavior from a political party. The irresponsibility and basic endorsement of extremely dangerous behavior is actually sickening.

Here are some more images:

https://twitter.com/RzstProgramming/status/1322911808714350593?s=20
https://twitter.com/RzstProgramming/status/1322707310901415937?s=20

This should be utterly and totally unacceptable behavior. It is criminal to use vehicles in this manner and it is damaging to the very fabric of our political system to have leaders of political parties encourage and endorse this behavior.

I fear that we will see further such incidents over the next several days.

This kind of behavior is a major reason, that are well apart from any policy considerations, as to why Trump should not be reelected. And I implore anyone who reads this who is planning to vote for Trump to go back and read these examples and think about his constant rhetoric and ask yourself: are judges really worth what he is doing to our politics?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Democracy, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Nightcrawler says:

    This is way beyond intimidation. It’s terrorism.

    If I were to post what I think should happen to these vermin, I’d undoubtedly be banned from this site.

    Besides, I need to go to the grocery store and stock up on essentials. There will be terrorist attacks next week, and people will be murdered. The only question is to what degree.

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  2. Scott F. says:

    As such, the question asked by the first tweet is quite clear: they have been radicalized (and I think that the appropriate terms) by Trump and his media allies.

    Radicalization is exactly right. And I would add that it is also appropriate that the term radicalization connotates indoctrination and ultimately jihadization when you consider the Texas GOP response.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    That Texas Republicans, facing a major demographic shift, made Allen Freaking West the chairman of the party really speaks volumes. What a sorry excuse for a human being he is.

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  4. @James Joyner: Indeed. I was unaware of that until last night and I think that was part of why I couldn’t fully accept the statement when I first read it because who in their right minds would give West that job?

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  5. CSK says:

    There were some great reactions to what some idiot at The American Thinker (sic) calls “Texas-style humor”:
    1. “Hey Pervy Crooked Joe, Camel Toe and Assorted Misfits and Cry Babies, WELCOME TO TEXAS…A…Holes!”
    2. “Every time I see those videos I laugh so Hard. MAGA! KAG! God bless Texas! God bless America!”
    3. “Lordy. Just imagine the terror, fear, and confusion on that bus. ROTFLMAO

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  6. CSK says:

    @CSK:
    This was over at Lucianne.com. The hatred is palpable.

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  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I’m not the right guy to be observing for your purposes, but all I see is a white SUV straddling the lane line from the beginning of the film. Using your bigger truck to push the SUV out of the lane is not the wisest choice, but unless you stance is that the white SUV was originally one lane to the right, it looks like his accident to me. IANAL or an insurance investigator.

    What I’d really love is for this to be a Trumper hitting another Trumper, but when you got a bunch of NASCAR wannabees playing “Darlington-The Track That Can’t Be Tamed” on a freeway, this type of thing is going to happen. I’m more surprised that the collision wasn’t worse. It’s almost enough to make me consider an oversized truck that is too big for me to handle safely. Maybe what all those rednecks have been saying about large quantities of sheet metal making you safer has been right all along.

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  8. de stijl says:

    Rwandan radio had so much “fun” with cockroach “jokes”.

    How do you stop a cockroach from invading your home? Cut off it’s legs! The hype man laughs uproariously.

    Meanwhile, outside the studio, mobs with machetes were lopping off limbs for sport.

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  9. @Just nutha ignint cracker: This, no doubt, becomes a matter of interpretation. I think the SUV was straddling the line and I think that the truck came up from the right to try and take possession of the lane. The truck should never had done that in the first place. And it appears to me that the truck was trying to move the SUV off of its position.

    But, also, trying to figure all that out can be a distraction.

    My ultimate position would be without the swarm of trucks there would have been no accident.

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  10. Jen says:

    Can we revisit the “deplorables” moniker, please?

    I think this qualifies as deplorable behavior.

    Hillary was only wrong insomuch as she said it was only half.

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  11. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @James Joyner: Don’t leave out that he’s an embarrassment to the Army, and Commissioned Officers of any Service.

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  12. You know, I’ve heard of Allen West. But when I read the statement I thought, “It’s a common name, must be another Allen West”. Because who would put that guy in charge of anything?

    Trump would.

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  13. Jim Brown 32 says:

    More evidence that supports my (admittedly saddening) view that Democrats better have their boots laced up tight.

    This is not the environment for pearl clutching or “outrage”–that actually emboldens and entertains these people. This is the time for–Not Fucking Around. My Grandfather (WW2/Korea Vet) said that after he got back from the war he let white people know that we can have peace or war and they would get his best for whatever path they chose. I feel the same way. I would prefer standard democracy–but frankly–that’s not possible with Right Wing Media (who by the way uses media persuasion tactics borrowed from ISIS–who borrowed them from the Mexican Drug Cartels) droning on and on about Democrats being existential threats to America.

    I don’t really have much of a beef with the Trumpie Hoi Poi because I understand how media persuasion tactics work and who they work against. Its not their fault anymore than its a killer pit bulls fault that it mauled some elderly person or a child–the dog was conditioned to do that. That doesn’t mean that the dog doesn’t have to be dealt with when its about to attack. It sad but that’s how the game must be played. At a certain level there comes a confrontation and it really just boils down, in that moment, to you or them.

    I dont know the answers to how this can be handled in a Nation that has Free Press–but somehow, the most mainstream of the Right Wing media will have to be addressed or they will plunge this country into open violence. There will always be fringe racists but mainstream RW media has created an environment for them to move and grow in–instead of keeping them in the closet where they belong.

    In the meantime–citizens will have to find a way to protect themselves from people who think every non-republican is a latte-sipping simp. A lot of us are war vets and (are also conditioned) to meet a threat with force. Shit, I still work out a emergency exit plan in every unfamiliar facility I walk into. I guarantee you if that Bus had thrown its weight around and scuffed up a few vehicles–you would never see another Trump convoy try that again (obviously its great they didn’t because it would have given RW media more “were the victims” narratives.) Im glad I bought my AR-15 have been stockpiling ammo—Im not effing around with any of these people.

    If Im at Risk—They are at Risk.

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Don’t disagree with you on the point about the swarm of trucks, but that’s true of almost any situation of swarming aggressive drivers. It was a job for whatever LEO was in charge of traffic control for the region and those agencies chose to turn away. It’s not like the “Trump Train” was some 5 minute interval thing, at least that’s not the impression I have.

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  15. wr says:

    These are assholes who warm themselves up by watching Mad Max: Fury Road and rooting for Immortan Joe — because he’s only trying to keep those hot bitches in line where he can have sex with them whenever he wants, and then this crippled chick — disgusting, as the Prez would say — tries to take them away.

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  16. Thomas V Hilton says:

    And, further, when I first saw this yesterday, it struck me as clearly the kind of behavior that President Trump himself has encouraged with his rhetoric, dating back to the 2016 campaign and during the 2018 campaign season.

    In fact, Donald Jr. had tweeted about the Biden rally and urged Trump supporters to show up to it. So beyond the general incitement from Trump, this particular incident was clearly incited by Donald Jr.

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  17. JohnMcC says:

    I wrote this as a comment to the Joyner post on the subject quite a few hours ago then (as I do pretty often) didn’t ‘POST’. After fixing everyone’s breakfast, walking the dog, sipping last coffee on the patio….still feel it ought to be said:

    Where is the point at which we can say outloud and firmly that we are dealing with Fascists if not here & now? Do we wait for Kristallnacht? Obviously not! There needs to be a very tough response to this. People should be jailed and run through a legal set of procedures and charges that leave them ruined and shamed. The media that radicalized them should be treated the same — forced to defend themselves until their voices can’t be heard above a whisper.

    Hell with these guys clutching their ‘rights’ to form this kind of political terrorism.

    Gosh, feel better already. Now to find out if my concealed carry card will let me stick my .357 in my waistband on my way to vote Tuesday.

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  18. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    Best movie of the 2010s. Miller is a genius at framing and pace and practical effects and editing.

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  19. Han says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The white Biden vehicle is not straddling the line at the beginning of the video, though it is possible its left two wheels are on it. More to the point, it is directly behind the Biden bus at the beginning, likely its assigned driving position given the pic at the top of the post. Can’t tell at the beginning how many lanes there are, so either the Trump truck was on the shoulder of the road and forced its way on, or a lane ended and the Trump truck chose to force its way over instead of safely merging behind the white Biden vehicle. Given the lane markings we do see, I don’t see how the Trump truck could move from behind and to the right of the Biden bus to directly behind it, without being responsible for the incident.

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    You know, I’ve heard of Allen West. But when I read the statement I thought, “It’s a common name, must be another Allen West”. Because who would put that guy in charge of anything?

    They might get Allen West and Adam West confused. Lots of people do, and then wonder why Batman is saying crazy shit.

    I suppose it could work the other way around, and they thought they were putting Batman in charge of the Texas GOP.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    Trump Trains have been driving through Portland on a regular basis all year, with a similar goal of intimidation. Organized by the Proud Boys, starting far outside of Portland and then invading the city as a show of force.

    I am really surprised there hasn’t been more violence.

    They don’t try that shit in Seattle, and I suspect it has less to do with Washington having a better class of Trumpist than Seattle having narrower streets and no consistent grid pattern. A Trump Train would get stuck in traffic.

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  22. wr says:

    @de stijl: Saw The Road Warrior in its US premiere at the Seattle Film Festival when I was in college. I’ve never stopped being blown away. And yes, Fury Road is even better.

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  23. JohnSF says:

    Those “protestors” were lucky someone like me wasn’t running security for that coach convoy.
    Because some people might have a distinct sense of humour failure in that situation.

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  24. Joe says:

    C’mon Gustopher:

    Lots of people do, and then wonder why Batman is saying bat shit crazy things.

    FTFY

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  25. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    In 1983? I went as Mad Max to the Halloween Party. My gf went as Dog.

    Affixed half of a football shoulder pad to the left side of my jacket spray painted black. Cosplayed up a leg brace out of cheap electrical piping.

    Carried a tin can of dog food (that was actually my beer cup carefully cleaned).

    We fucking ruled! Best costume I ever did. Sarah rocked as Dog. Feral, smart, cunning – her roleplay was awesome. Kudos! Caitlyn was Feral Kid – her hair was positively on fleek.

    Unfortunately, I am unable to watch 1, 2, and 3 anymore. Mel Gibson revolts me and makes me nauseous. I’ve tried and I cannot.

    Which sucks cuz The Road Warrior (#2) was my absolute favorite movie of all time. 1 is pretty cool – extremely promising. 3 is kinda garbage. 2 and 4 kick so much ass.

    I can’t watch Mad Max. I just can’t. It’s visceral revulsion whenever I see Gibson now. Cannot.

    So Fury Road comes out. God bless Miller and Theron and Hardy. The world was right again.

    Phillip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff correctly assumes its #2 status once again after Fury Road came put. I am dying to see 5.

    I saw the world premiere of Barton Fink and participated in the Q and A with a question to John Goodman about ear pus.

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  26. James Miller says:

    Disingenuous at best. I am a 3rd party voter and no fan of Trump. But there is no way from the available footage. You can say this truck pulled up on the right. It is literally in position before the clip ever starts. The only thing you can see is the white SUV trying to push it out of the right lane. Now I am not saying the truck didn’t do whats claimed but with this footage there is 0 ability to tell. And to be perfectly honest from what you can see it appears as if the suv is attempting to run the truck out of the right lane ‍♂️

    The trucks are driving along with the van. If they wanted to stop it all they had to do was stop in front of it. This is ridiculous lol. Are they being assholes? Absolutely ! Is this anything else? No.

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  27. keef says:
  28. @keef: The truth is that a bunch of Trump supporters in trucks swarmed a bus and caused a highly dangerous situation that otherwise would not have existed.

    Not that it matters to you.

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  29. Let me be clear: the collision between the truck and the SUV is not, nor was it ever, the main issue. That collision was the consequence of the overall action engaged in by people in trucks trying to terrorize their political opponents.

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  30. @James Miller: I find the notion of numerous vehicles swarming another set of vehicles on the interstate to be reckless and endangering.

    Do you not?

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  31. No swarm of trucks, there is no collision. Plain and simple.

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