Sanders and Omar Preach Unity, Yet Supporters Direct 'Lock Him Up' Chants at Trump
Remember when we were so outraged by the “lock her up” chant? So outraged, in fact, that CNBC’s John Harwood said that “any serious Democratic candidate will make a point of shutting down” any “lock him up!” chants directed at Donald Trump in case impeachment became a possibility?
So, yes, about that. Either Bernie Sanders isn’t a serious Democratic candidate or we’re not going to see him or his campaign surrogates shut them down.
I mean, both are possible. It’s rather difficult to take Sanders seriously — not in the least because he appeared at a Minneapolis rally with Rep. Ilhan Omar and tweeted out beforehand, apparently without a hint of irony, that “Trump is a demagogue who wants to divide us with hate.”
Trump is a demagogue who wants to divide us with hate. When we stand together, we will defeat him in a landslide. Join us live from our Minneapolis rally with @IlhanMN and Prince’s longtime band New Power Generation. https://t.co/19oXjeqibP
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 4, 2019
However, it turns out that when the “lock him up” chants got brought out during the event Sunday night, both Sanders and Omar were more than willing to do nothing about them, according to Fox News.
Chants of “Lock Him Up” at tonight’s @BernieSanders rally in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/58NT6dQ7ZP
— Gary Grumbach (@GaryGrumbach) November 4, 2019
The event took place at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena. Befitting the demographic that would show up for a dual Sanders/Omar rally, it was a pretty rambunctious event.
According to The Hill, the chants came after Sanders said, “We have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar, who is running the most corrupt administration in history.”
Rep. Omar, meanwhile, had said of Trump that “virtually every word out of his mouth is an attack on the very values and ideals that make this country a beacon of hope for me and the people around the world.”
During his prepared remarks, minutes after not stopping the “lock him up” chant, Sanders tried to hit a different note.
“We are going to do exactly the opposite of what Trump is doing,” he said. “He is trying to divide us up. We are going to bring our people together … around an agenda that works for all of us, not just the one percent.”
He apparently wasn’t attending his own rally just a few minutes prior, or at least wasn’t mentally present.
Twitter pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in how the media had treated “lock her up” the same way in 2016 and beyond.
Excited for a full year of dueling “Lock them up” chants!
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) November 4, 2019
“Lock her up” chants at Trump rallies were widely condemned in the press. Where are those same critics now?
I’m not even getting into how deplorable it is that a major Presidential candidate has someone with Omar’s record giving a surrogate speech at a rally. https://t.co/baArmnAyiy
— (((AG))) (@AG_Conservative) November 4, 2019
I’m sure @brianstelter will be all over this once he’s done with his 10-part series on Trump’s Twitter typos, and gets back from vacation.
— Dan Goldwasser (@dgoldwas) November 4, 2019
Of course, there was always liberaldom, ready and eager to offer an apologia for the chant. Take Vox’s Ezra Klein, who tweeted that “in context, it’s not being normalized. The crowd was confronting Trump *with his own abnormal rhetoric* as an act of protest and humiliation. They’re not trying to lock him up, they’re trying to publicly embarrass him — and correctly so.”
That’s not quite what they’re trying to do; when you consider the absurd number of purportedly responsible people who’ve talked about treason with Trump, I don’t think this is just about publicly embarrassing the president.
“Unlike with the RNC ‘lock her up’ chants, there is neither illiberal intention nor result here. Just the opposite: a powerful political figure, for once, is confronted by public protest he has to see and hear, forcing him to listen to his own rhetoric echoed back,” he continued.
Unlike with the RNC “lock her up” chants, there is neither illiberal intention nor result here. Just the opposite: a powerful political figure, for once, is confronted by public protest he has to see and hear, forcing him to listen to his own rhetoric echoed back.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 28, 2019
This is exactly the same. One group wanted Hillary Clinton tried for mishandling classified information, the other wants President Trump tried for asking Ukraine to start investigations.
The primary differences are that it’s not terribly original here and, unlike a potential Hillary Clinton trial, there’s roughly no chance President Trump gets convicted. If it was “illiberal intention” in the “lock her up” chants, there’s illiberal intention here, too.
There were plenty of other fun moments during the rally, too, particularly when Omar said she was “beyond honored and excited for a president who will fight against Western imperialism and fight for a just world.” (If this were a brilliant piece of performance art to get Sanders defeated it couldn’t work any better.)
However, the great irony is the silence over the “lock him up” chant. Ezra Klein put it perfectly. This was only “illiberal” when it involved Hillary Clinton and her mishandling of classified information on her private email server. This kind of chanting was only a problem when it was Donald Trump’s supporters doing it.
Now it’s confronting a “powerful political figure” with “public protest he has to see and hear, forcing him to listen to his own rhetoric echoed back.”
The thing is, Trump probably doesn’t care. He’s the one who embraced the “lock her up” chant, anyhow. It’s Klein who is on the side that threw a conniption over “lock her up” but which is just fine with this, if for poorly explicated reasons. It’ll be fun to see them try to explain this contradiction away.
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