I saw one lefty on Twitter last night sweetly suggest that maybe the crowd was chanting “Not me, us” rather than “Lock him up.” “Not me, us” is a Bernie slogan. It’s actually onscreen at the rally behind the podium during the chanting, as you can see in the screencap above.
But the chants sure don’t sound like “Not me, us” to me. Nor do they sound that way to Vox, among others. In fact, this wouldn’t be the first time a “Lock him up” chant aimed at Trump has broken out at a Sanders rally in the past month. Breitbart notes that it briefly got going at Bernie’s big comeback rally in Queens a few weeks ago when the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico was at the mic lambasting Trump.
It actually happened more than once last night. The first time was halting, while Ilhan Omar was at the mic:
Bernie crowd chants “Lock him up!” after Rep. Omar starts trashing Trump pic.twitter.com/Z93tkw6vkP
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 4, 2019
The second time, with Bernie at the podium, was much more forceful:
— Gary Grumbach (@GaryGrumbach) November 4, 2019
I can’t find a clip that shows what Sanders said immediately preceding the chanting but it sounds like it was indeed an attack on Trump:
Then, he unloaded a series of superlatives, punctuated by audible boos. “It gives me no pleasure to tell all of you what you already know: that today, tragically, we have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar — who is running the most corrupt administration in history, who has obstructed justice, who has used his office for personal gain, who has threatened to withhold national security funds from an ally in order to improve his political chances.”
Before calling Trump a racist, sexist, bigoted homophobe, Sanders remarked, “This is a president who deserves to be impeached, and will be impeached.”
He didn’t seem to be in any rush to move on once the chants got going!
— The Hill (@thehill) November 4, 2019
There’s been enough hand-wringing in the media today about this and the “Lock him up” chanting at the World Series last week that Democratic candidates will at least harrumph and ask for order the next time it happens at their rallies. It’s not that they disagree that Trump should be locked up, it’s just that it’s Trumpy after 2016 to let a political rally go in that direction. Dems will be selling themselves as the adults on the ticket in 2020, the alleged antidote to MAGA’s norm-busting revanchism. Cheerleading the president’s imprisonment would, uh, complicate that. In fact, notes Dan Drezner, the chanting will make it harder for Democrats to file actual criminal charges against Trump after he leaves office if grounds for charges arise since incidents like this can be cited as proof that they’re politically motivated. For all his huffing and puffing on the trail in 2016, Trump and his DOJ didn’t pursue Hillary Clinton. (So far as we know.) A Warren or Sanders or Biden DOJ really might look seriously at Trump, though, in which case they’re better off doing what they can to quarantine this sort of thing.
That’s an irony to these chants — they’re both more and less serious than the “Lock her up” chants at MAGA rallies. Some Democrats will defend them as a simple matter of giving Trumpers a taste of their own medicine. How do you like it when it’s your guy who has a mob hooting for his imprisonment? But other Dems will say, no, we really mean it — Trump is a criminal who must be sent to prison for campaign finance violations or bribery or whatever as a matter of equal justice under law. Republican voters haven’t bugged Trump much while in office to see to it that Hillary is locked up. But Democrats will pressure a Democratic president to pursue an investigation of Trump aggressively once he no longer enjoys the legal immunity his office presently provides him.
My dull take on the alleged threat to “norms” here is that it’s overstated and chiefly a byproduct of the poor choice the country gave itself in 2016. Go figure that if you put two characters as sleazy as Hillary and Trump on the ballot that public interest in literally imprisoning the opposition will rise. You’re not going to see many “Lock him/her up” chants at MAGA rallies this year if Amy Klobuchar or Bernie or maybe even Elizabeth Warren ends up as the Democratic nominee. You won’t hear many from Democrats in 2024 if it’s Nikki Haley on the ballot.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s Trump getting booed at a UFC event this weekend. Not a place that I’d expect to be anti-MAGA, but it *is* New York City after all.
— 𝐌𝐢𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐇𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐳 (@MitchHorowitz) November 3, 2019