Why Trump’s Reaction Is Different

There has been, understanbly, tons of comment about Trump et alia’s creation of a de facto federal police, ostensibly in response to protests in Portland (it’s laughable to call graffiti over a 12 square block area a riot). It is disturbing and it is another step on the road to tyranny. At the same time, there has been a lot of commentary, mostly from the left about how this is not unique.

That is true. Presidents have used federalized forces to harass, beat, and kill protestors. They have used these same forces to bust unions–and said busting involved violence. As misguided and unjust as those efforts were, they were attempts to restore order (again, an unjust order). Once ‘order’ is restored, they typically stop (or at least, lift the boot a little).

Trump’s motivations are completely different. He wants the chaos. He needs the chaos. He wants the images of violence, so he can continue to terrify his supporters. There are all sorts of ways what is happening in Portland could be de-escalated (or flat-out crushed), but it’s clear at this point, he doesn’t want that. At all.

This is one reason why that asshole is so fucking exhausting. He thrives in chaos, in disturbance, and in strife. It’s so wearying, but it’s his preeminent political strategy. That’s what makes this different.

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