Every race for the White House lends itself to boxing metaphors. Candidates “duke it out,” they “trade jabs,” they “spar.” But until 2016, they were just metaphors. There was no actual fighting.
This year the spectacles around Donald Trump rallies have seen blood spilled and faces bashed; signs ripped and flags burned. The violence and anger comes from both sides. Bryan Sanders, a protester, was sent to the hospital by a Trump fan that sucker punched him in Tucson. “When Mr. Donald Trump comes somewhere, it gets messy,” Sanders said.
But Juan Hernandez, a gay Hispanic Trump supporter, has felt the violence from the other side. When he was leaving a Trump rally in San Jose, protesters jumped him and broke his nose. “I don’t want them to think that this is okay, that they can’t go out and support the candidate they want to support,” Hernandez said, tearing up, as he talked about telling his nephew what happened.
For his part, Trump has upped his signature bravado in response to the clashes. While his campaign says it does not condone violence, Trump has said he’d like to punch protesters in the face and offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who did. Almost every rally he holds is now punctuated by his roar—“Get ’em out!”—when a dissenter starts chanting or raising a sign.
In November, the country will settle its differences at the ballot box. But until then, the fight could continue to be an ugly one.