Donald Trump is pretty confident about his chances at the moment, which might be something of an understatement given a soundbite that’s gone viral. ABC News reports that a quote taken from a recent speech by Trump has gone viral. It’s a doozy to say the least.
— NPR (@NPR) January 24, 2016
During a rally held at Dordt College, in Sioux City, Iowa, Donald quipped, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” It was a bold statement followed by a shooting gesture that was met with laughter, suggesting that many in attendance probably agreed with that statement.
Even so, the entire situation left a bad taste in quite a few mouths.
Gun violence is a serious cause for concern among many Americans. From unarmed citizens being gunned down by police officers to mass shootings seemingly happening every week, this isn’t a topic that many responsible voters would expect their potential president to take lightly.
Therefore, it’s hard to tell what might be more troubling: that Donald Trump would make such a joke without taking recent events into consideration, or that he assumes he’s so infallible, it’s okay to make such insensitive remarks on camera.
Even a student volunteer for the Trump campaign, Brandon Fokkema, was a little disconcerted by what said on stage.
“[Donald Trump] probably could’ve worded [his statement] a little bit better.”
Of the “shoot somebody” gaffe, Fokkema said that the point Trump was actually trying to make is that he was very confident about the support of his voters. Donald believes they’ll stand by him no matter what attack ads, political rivals, or media stories say about him.
CNN notes that, in addition to Trump’s refusal to comment about this story, the leading Republican candidate has frequently touted the unwavering support of his voters. The news source also claims that many of the Donald Trump voters they’ve talked to have stated that almost nothing will change their minds about voting for Trump.
So perhaps the “shoot somebody” joke by Donald Trump wasn’t too far off. Added to that, there is historical precedence for a past president actually killing someone and then being voted into office. His name? Andrew Jackson.
President Andrew Jackson was one of the most infamous men to be elected to the highest office in the United States. In 1806, Jackson shot and killed a long-time rival, named Charles Dickerson. Dickerson accused Jackson of being a cheat and a coward in a statement published by the National Review. He even insulted Jackson’s wife, Rachel.
Years of hatred culminated into a duel that, had Andrew lost, might have changed the outcome of history as we know it. Instead, it was Charles who was fatally wounded. Because of social mores at the time, Jackson wasn’t charged with a murder crime. Trump might be happy to know that this act had no impact on Andrew, who went on to become a two-term president.
Founding father Alexander Hamilton (the man currently on the $20 bill) was not so lucky. He was fatally shot in 1804 by then sitting U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. And you thought today’s politics were cutthroat!
— Jeffrey Guterman (@JeffreyGuterman) January 24, 2016
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for “The Donald,” while dueling was perfectly legal in America at the time of these historical events, the activity fell out of fashion by the time the 20th century rolled around.
In a more lengthy and historical context, what Donald Trump said wasn’t actually incorrect — we actually have verifiable proof that you could “shoot somebody” and still be elected president. Of course, we are a long way away from a time when that kind of violence among American politicians was accepted or palatable.
The today’s reality means that it’s not okay to even joke about these kinds of things, let alone act it out under most circumstances. If Donald Trump is serious about his political aspirations, he may need to find less offensive ways by which to flatter his followers.
Do you think Donald Trump could shoot someone and still keep his votes? Share your thoughts below!
[Photos by Joshua Lott/Getty Images]