Donald Trump moved a couple steps closer to calling for mass murder at the stroke of midnight May 28, writing “Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!” as he retweeted a “Cowboys for Trump” video in which a speaker says “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat”—and if Couy Griffin added “politically speaking” on this occasion, he’s made clear he does favor death for Democrats.
Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico! https://t.co/aCRJeskUA8
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
By contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden was honoring the 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19, saying “there are moments in our history that are so grim, so heart-rending that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments.”
Speaking to The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, Cowboy for Trump Griffin—a county commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico—said of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that “You get to pick your poison: you either go before a firing squad, or you get the end of the rope.” That interview was before Trump gleefully retweeted him.
In the same interview, Griffin said that violence is absolutely on the table in anti-lockdown protests. “I’ll tell you what, partner, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not an option that’s not on the table,” he told Sommer. But sure, that “politically speaking” he tacked on to “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” after a nice long pause for applause was totally heartfelt.
The issue, though, is not some county commissioner in New Mexico advocating violence. In a healthier political culture it might be newsworthy that an elected official at any level was saying that kind of thing, but in today’s Republican Party it’s not all that remarkable. What is remarkable is that it got retweeted out of the White House. With a pandemic raging that’s killed 100,000 Americans.
But we do have a model of what presidential dignity and compassion can look like.
”To all of you who are hurting so badly, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know there is nothing I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now, but I can promise you from experience, the day will come when the memory of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes,” Biden said. He ended, “God bless each and every one of you and the blessed memory of the one you lost. This nation grieves with you. Take some solace from the fact we all grieve with you.”