John F. Kennedy. Abraham Lincoln. William McKinley. James Garfield. You may recognize those names as former presidents of the United States. You may not know that all of them were assassinated. That’s right. All four of them were shot, bringing their presidential runs to an abrupt end. It’s telling that I’m guessing many of you had no idea that McKinley and Garfield were presidents, but that’s beside the point. What is the point is that people knew who they were and decided they needed to die for it.
Of course, Kennedy and Lincoln have gripped the public consciousness since their assassinations. Kennedy was a popular figure shot dead by either a lone gunman with ties to communism and a beef about Cuba or a CIA hit squad for reasons related to repeatedly stabbing Marilyn Monroe, depending on who you ask. Abraham Lincoln was, in the eyes of about half of the country, a man that literally tore the nation apart. John Wilkes Booth put a bullet in his head for that. An anarchist shot McKinley because he represented order. A deluded man thought Garfield owed him a favor (possibly on a Monday because of a missing lasagna) and killed him for it. And those are just the reasons behind the successful assassinations. Let’s look at four more names.
Andrew Jackson. Teddy Roosevelt. Gerald Ford. Ronald Reagan. This is just a small sampling of presidents that have had attempts made on their life. There are more, but in the interest of not just rattling off a list of people, I’ve chosen the most interesting to highlight. What makes them the most interesting, you ask? Well, aside from the fact that they too were all targets of gunmen (an American tradition, ladies and gentlemen), they are polarizing figures. And Gerald Ford is also on the list.
Andrew Jackson pissed a lot of people off. He made enemies at every turn. People did not like him. He was responsible for the Trail of Tears. And while that may not have been the mitigating factor in the attempt on his life, it still didn’t earn him everyone’s admiration. Teddy Roosevelt was the ultimate man – which clearly earned him the ire of the lesser men (read: the rest of the male population) in the country. Naturally, one of them shot him[footnote]I’m cheating a little with Roosevelt. He was running for president when he got shot, but he’d already been president before – he got the job when McKinley got shot. Assassination is the gift that keeps on giving.[/footnote]. Ronald Reagan was the Gipper. He was also a Republican whose economic policies seemingly ignored the needs of the working class, Democratic base. A guy that had a weird crush on Jodie Foster shot him. Reagan, of course, could not be killed so it was a moot attempt, but still. Gerald Ford might as well have never been president for all he did, and two freaking women still tried to kill him.
Over the last 240 years or so, a full 9% of our presidents have been assassinated. All of them have been killed by guns, so they’ve been quintessentially American murders. Further, we’ve had the four highlighted presidents as assassination targets, so that’s another 9% – again, all by gun. On top of those, there have been even more attempts on other sitting presidents and presidential candidates. We like us some violent changes in power in this country, and we like it often. By my admittedly unscientific calculations, we have an assassination or assassination attempt in this country every 15 years or so. And our reasons vary from “this man is evil incarnate” to “I don’t know that I like his hair or something.” My point is we take any excuse to try and kill presidents in this country and the last major domestic attempt was in 1981. We’re overdue and people probably have plenty of excuses to target a particularly divisive and potentially crazy head of state.
Let me preface the rest of this article by saying I am by no means calling on anyone to assassinate Donald J. Trump. I’m just surprised that no one has tried. He’s the perfect storm of contributing factors, from legitimate gripes to insane theories. He’s made enemies of the people and the press. Some suspect he’s been involved in potentially treasonous activity with the Russians, the classic Cold War foe of the United States. The man is a Tom Clancy antagonist. He’s a perfect target for a fringe element. And yet we’ve had two years of nothing. It doesn’t make sense. And we’re already overdue.
You’d think there would have been at least one attempt in the past few presidencies. After all, we’ve been fundamentally divided into vicious partisan factions for a couple of decades now. But each of the last few presidents have proven less than perfect as candidates for elimination. Let me lay it out for you.
Barrack Obama had his share of controversy, but deep down even the staunchest racist bastard is going to have trouble bringing himself to eliminate a meal ticket to cheaper healthcare and a bigger tax refund. W had his drawbacks, sure, but he was a nice guy and there was always the issue of being seen as someone that shot a mentally handicapped person. Plus you had to worry about Cheney shooting you in the face in return. Clinton? Come on. Do you really want to risk whatever hyper drug resistant STD is in his system getting on you from the blood spatter? No. No you do not. George Bush the first? Innocuous. Plus the Iraqis tried to blow him up after the first Gulf War, so I guess he gets a pass. Nope, they weren’t ideal choices. But Trump? Come on.
Donald Trump has used racist rhetoric on a damn near daily basis. He’s incited violence at his own rallies. His words have led to at least one mass shooting and a serial mail bomber. He has inspired people to kill other people. How has no one taken up arms against him? Violence, after all, begets violence. Aren’t the Antifa, Trump’s arch-nemeses, just as violent as the Neo-Nazis? Trump said so himself.
Huh. I wonder if he was wrong. Is it possible?
Look, I’m not here to judge. I just make observations. And what I’ve seen is that all the criteria have been met for an assassination attempt. I’m not saying there should be one. I certainly wouldn’t advocate anything of the sort. But if history has taught us anything, the man shouldn’t ride in any convertibles in Dallas. And you should watch every live event you can that Donald Trump attends. You just might get to see history.