Via the Free Beacon, is this the first time Trump himself has delivered a version of the now obligatory “this is why you got Trump” retort by Republicans whenever Democrats overreach culturally?
I’m not knocking him for it. Hillary defending the protests after she wiped out in the Rust Belt does feel like a “this is why you got Trump” moment.
She said people should resist “what are very clear dog-whistles” to the Trump base, pointing to the example of kneeling NFL players.
“That’s what black athletes kneeling was all about,” she said in response to a question about ways to resist the White House. ”That’s not against our anthem or our flag.”
“Actually, kneeling is a reverent position,” she continued. “It was to demonstrate in a peaceful way against racism and injustice in our criminal system.”
In fairness to Dems, they have their own base to please on this issue and that base, for the most part, is pro-protest. Democratic voters, young adults, and blacks all approve by wide margins…
…but not as wide as the margin by which Republicans disapprove. Indies are also against the protests on balance. And whites without a college degree, the group that did more than any other to sweep Trump into the White House, disapprove overwhelmingly at 28/68. Maybe Democratic leaders should balance their pro-protest stance by introducing a new bill to make flag-burning a criminal offense. You know, like the one Hillary sponsored in 2005. The Clintons weren’t above a little flag-related pandering to bank goodwill from red-state and purple-state voters. Gotta try to play both sides in the culture war to some extent if you want to win elections.
I think the Trump political dream scenario is the NFL caving and ordering the players to stand during the anthem, which would be a clear victory for the president, and then the players and the ACLU dragging this battle out by suing on First Amendment grounds when they kneel anyway and are suspended. How could they sue the government for actions taken by a private entity like the NFL? Well, since Trump has tweeted threats about tax breaks that the league receives if players don’t respect the anthem, conceivably they could argue that any suspensions they receive for defying a league “stand or else” rule are de facto state action. How do you think Trump would like that court battle, Colin Kaepernick and his allies against him and the flag?
“The biggest wild card of all here is the president’s tweets,” said Marc Edelman, who teaches sports law at Baruch College in New York. “The NFL didn’t publicly voice opposition until baited into doing so and being threatened with financial sanctions by the president of the United States.”…
If the NFL acts because of Trump’s threat to punish the league, players could legitimately claim that their First Amendment rights have been violated, said David Cole, the ACLU’s national legal director.
“The courts have recognized that when government officials threaten punishment or consequences because of protected speech, that in and of itself can chill the speech, in violation of the First Amendment,” Cole said, citing a 1986 case in which a federal court sided with a challenge by Playboy Enterprises against Edwin Meese, then the U.S. attorney general, for sending letters threatening to publish a list of 7-Eleven convenience stores that sold pornography.
The obvious problem with that suit is that it’s easier to believe the league is nervous about the protests due to fans’ unhappiness than Trump’s unhappiness. POTUS can bellow threats all he wants but in the end he’d need Congress’s help to punish the NFL by revoking any tax breaks. His influence over the league has much less to do with his influence over the government than with his influence over his supporters. If 10 percent of Trump voters stop watching games at the president’s suggestion, that’s not “state action.” That’s persuasion. The public withholding its money to change corporate behavior of which it disapproves is the very definition of a boycott. Ain’t nothing illegal about that.
By the way, I saw a story somewhere this morning suggesting that the Packers could solve their problem at QB now that Aaron Rodgers is out for the season by signing Kaepernick. Can you imagine Kaep quarterbacking middle America’s favorite team while fighting some sort of protest-related legal battle against the NFL and/or Trump? That’s the sort of cultural weirdness we’ve come to not just hope for but to expect in 2017.