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The Violence to Come

What will happen to American politics if, as now appears likely, the Republican Party nominates Donald Trump? Here’s one bet: It will get more violent.

The United States is headed toward a confrontation, the likes of which it has not seen since 1968, between leftist activists, who believe in physical disruption as a means of drawing attention to injustice, and a candidate eager to forcibly put down that disruption in order to make himself look tough. The new culture of physical disruption on the activist left stems partly from disillusionment with Barack Obama. In 2008, Obama’s election sparked unprecedented excitement among young progressives. But that excitement was followed by deep disillusionment as it became clear that even a liberal black president could not remedy the structural injustices afflicting people of color.

So Millennial activists began challenging politicians directly. In June 2012, two protesters connected with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance occupied the Obama campaign’s Denver office for six days and threatened further takeovers unless the president stopped deporting the young undocumented immigrants dubbed “Dreamers.” Two months later, activists for undocumented immigrants sought to disrupt the Democratic convention in Charlotte.