Sen. John McCain, in a talk that otherwise made him sound like a voice of reason among the riven GOP establishment, found his own rhetoric influenced by the tenor of Donald Trump’s campaign style. In a discussion that addressed many topics, the veteran politician McCain said what’s obvious to everybody but the most deeply entrenched insiders: it’d be “foolish” for Republicans to ignore “the will of the people” as expressed in votes cast during the primary. Backing anyone other than Donald Trump, given the results, makes no sense.
But bemoaning Trump’s style of making his attacks personal, McCain said it bothered him “because you can almost violently disagree with an issue, but to attack their character and their integrity — then those wounds take a long time to heal.” Violence as a solution for disagreements is something Trump has tacitly condoned, and the use of “violently disagree” as used here is not usually part of McCain’s rhetoric. Yes, he softens it with “almost” — but the effect of Trump’s rhetoric is seen creeping into McCain’s language in this case. Passionately, zealously, ardently, strenuously, and angrily are all ways to express the sort of disagreement common to democratic rule. “Violently” opens a door that has usually stayed shut — until recently.