The answer to this superficially appealing logic: Yes, electing Trump would amount to a dire peril for American democracy. But not only is violence unlikely to prevent his election as a practical matter (it makes Trump a figure of sympathy, and at any rate, his supporters are far more heavily armed). It would also be a disaster as a moral matter. Suppose that Trump’s election could be prevented by breaking up his speeches and intimidating his supporters. Such a “victory” would actually constitute the blow to democracy it purports to stop, eroding the long-standing norm that elections should be settled at the ballot box rather than through street fighting.
To be sure, the advocates of violence against Trump would disagree with this conclusion. And that disagreement lies at the heart of a deeper ideological fissure that has opened up on the left over the last couple of years. Liberalism sees political rights as a positive good — rights for one are rights for all. “Democracy” means political rights for every citizen. The far left defines democracy as the triumph of the subordinate class over the privileged class. Political rights only matter insofar as they are exercised by the oppressed. The oppressor has no rights.
Related: Everyone Wants to Kill Baby Hitler. I particularly enjoy the irony that the left has now found its own version of the “ticking time bomb” scenario to justify counterproductive tactics.