Trump's hog-tied Biden video lays bare danger signs and troubling subtext of his rhetoric

It's a call for violence and he is openly revealing it

biden-tied via X

Like the ominous tolling of democracy's funeral knell, Donald Trump's desperation has now embraced unvarnished brutality, and his inflammatory rhetoric is now at a dangerous new level. By sharing a video depicting President Joe Biden hogtied and helpless, he has embraced tactics of dehumanisation against his political opponents. The disturbing imagery represents an escalation in his assault on democratic norms.

With this and other “bloodbath” comments, Trump is steadily desensitising Americans to authoritarian propaganda and violence under the guise of "jokes" and media provocations. What begins as controversial quickly becomes normalised through repeated exposure. This trussed and helpless video of the sitting president, while shocking, is merely the latest boundary to be crossed in his bid to regain the White House so he can stop criminal prosecutions against himself.

It is a call for violence, it is only part of an ominous plan, and he is openly revealing it, laying bare the true threat he poses to American democracy itself.

The video Trump shared on his Truth Social platform is the stuff of dark propaganda reels— a chilling scene of the sitting president rendered powerless and subjugated, hog-tied at the mercy of Trump's personality cult. This genuinely shocking imagery brazenly crosses the line into outright incitement of political violence against Biden and the democratic processes he represents.

For Trump and his most fervent supporters, this counts as a mere expression of "free speech" in campaigning for the world’s most consequential office. In the perverse MAGA cosmology, where patriotism has become indistinguishable from bloodlust, such open encouragement of physical harm against one's political rivals is not an isolated incident. It is part of a calculated, ongoing Trump pattern designed to escalate tensions to a breaking point just as he did prior to the January 6, 2020, insurrection for which he now faces criminal charges.

The former president's path leads in an unambiguous direction— the erosion of constraints around acceptable political discourse. Each line pushed Trump's movement closer to the eliminationist ideologies of history's most brutal regimes. By depicting his rival as subjugated and powerless, he ushers in a new, more clearly violent rhetorical frontier.

Whether this escalation stems from sheer desperation or a deliberate strategy is immaterial. The consequences remain the same — a continued unravelling of civic norms and the potential for violence once impermissible actions become mundane. Trump's ultimate aims are unclear, but unclearness is the point, echoing the new Russian concept of a “hybrid war” which confuses the opponents in plausible deniability. But Trump’s high personal stakes in regaining power are showing his willingness to fray the social fabric and growing more evident by the day.

This video is no mere outlier in this cynical roadmap. It is the latest milestone in his ongoing project to erode all constraints and cultivate an embittered plurality willing to wield extralegal force to put him in power forever. 

Americans are gaslighting themselves into forgetting a mere weeks ago he openly foreshadowed the possibility of election-related "bloodbaths" if he wasn't reinstalled in the White House. 

"If I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the country."

Those are the words he uttered at a rally in Ohio last month; Trump issued that ominous threat cloaked in the equivocating language that has become his trademark. 

But beneath the veneer of ambiguity lays a disturbing subtext— the clearest signal yet that the former president views the 2024 election as an existential battle he and his supporters must be prepared to wage by any means necessary, including violence.

When Trump took the stage in Ohio, the scene was rife with ignominious symbolism. An announcer instructed the crowd to rise and salute the insurrectionists of January 6th — the very people who sought to violently overturn the 2020 election through a brazen attack on American democracy. 

Trump himself stood and saluted as the so-called "J6 Prison Choir" performed the national anthem, lending an air of martyrdom to those arrested for their criminal acts that day. 

It was an opening salvo dripping with the same polluted brand of patriotism that fueled the January 6 Capitol assault. But it was merely a prelude to the full-throated demagoguery and barely veiled threats that would follow from the former president's lips.

Much digital ink has already been spilt dissecting Trump's particular turn of phrase when he warned of a "bloodbath for the country" if he fails to regain the presidency in 2024. 

Predictably, his supporters instantly claimed the comment was being taken out of context, insisting he merely meant economic calamity for the auto industry. But this willfully myopic interpretation cannot be given credence when viewed through the full prism of Trump's lengthy diatribe.

The charged language of "bloodbath" alone instantly calls to mind violent imagery utterly divorced from economic policy discussions. 

This is not a mere coincidence. 

Trump has always shown a lacerating instinct for provocative language that electrifies his base. His words are bellows stoking the fires of division and unrest, crafted with deliberate arsonist's care.

 With his new video, he is now explicitly depicting his political rivals as sub-human objects deserving of torture and subjugation for the crime of failing to capitulate to his delusions of permanent rule.

But let’s go back to the denials that the original “bloodbath” comment referred was a call for violence. This is important because it is now in a larger context.

Trump and his supporters claim that the use of "bloodbath" carried no malicious subtext that it was referring to the effect on the American car industry. This is despite the history that shows his previous use of such rhetoric to incite real-world deadly violence. 

It should be noted, this is the man who stoked the Charlottesville tragedy with equivocations over white supremacy. The man who played coy about denouncing the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." Whose own heated language about the "stolen" 2020 election —which he again falsely insisted was "rigged" in Ohio— inspired the very insurrection he now chooses to glorify.

In that context, it is gullible to divorce this latest combustible language from the full context of Trump's unrelenting assault on democratic norms and institutions. To analyse the "bloodbath" comment as a mere economic prediction observation is to exhibit staggering intellectual dishonesty or woeful naivete about the true nature of his political movement, one in which he tells his followers that he will be their retribution. 

The context renders clear that this was a calculated dog whistle— a rhetorical hand grenade lobbed at his most fervid supporters to whip them into a vengeful frenzy should he fail to regain power "by any means necessary," as his cult slogan insists. 

Indeed, Trump immediately buttressed his "bloodbath" remark by stating that if he loses in 2024, "I don't think you're going to have another election, or certainly not an election that's meaningful."

Let that ominous assertion sink in. 

Combined with his "bloodbath" language, Trump was unmistakably implying that democratic defeat is not an outcome he or his supporters should accept— and that extralegal, potentially violent resistance could be required to "save" the nation from another "stolen" election. 

This pits him not only against democracy itself, but as conservative Republican Judge Michael Luttig warned, on a "path to instigate armed conflict against the United States." 

Trump's intertwined rhetoric forms a clear call to arms for his supporters to reject any 2024 result that displaces him from power. The historical precedent for demagogues invoking fears of a national "bloodbath" to incite fierce insurrectionist loyalty against democratic institutions is indisputable and inexpressibly grim. It hearkens to the kinds of eliminationist language that has fueled some of modern history's most horrific atrocities. 

In 1994, Rwandan Hutu extremists called for a "final solution" to exterminate the Tutsi minority, resulting in a 100-day genocide that massacred an estimated 8,00,000 to 1 million people. 

Under Pol Pot's deranged Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia endured a similar genocide from 1975 to 1979 that killed 1.7 million perceived enemies through execution, forced labour, starvation and disease— all in pursuit of a twisted "societal transformation."

Even Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1976 deployed such apocalyptic rhetoric, calling for the purging of "counterrevolutionaries" in what became a nationwide orgy of violence that left millions dead. 

In each of these incomprehensible tragedies, bloodbaths were spurred by leaders who painted them as inhuman aberrations, an existential threat requiring the most extreme and brutal solution. Lest you think that Americans would never let that happen, read Trump’s rhetoric below; think January 6, 2020.

In the same Ohio speech, Trump gave the game away when, in the same breath as predicting a "bloodbath," he also referred to some immigrants as "animals" that "in my opinion" are not even "people." 

This was his familiar, dehumanising nativist sleight-of-hand— simultaneously firing a bigoted broadside at racial minorities while seeding the premise that some in America are less than fully human, and therefore less entitled to democratic rights or humane treatment.

Whether Trump truly desires or intends to ignite such cataclysmic unrest is almost immaterial. The damage lies in his callous willingness to dangle such deeply disturbing insinuations in front of his most inflamed partisans, hinting at looming civil strife over election results they have already been primed to reject as fraudulent. 

After all, at what point does negligently starting a rhetorical fire become indistinguishable from intentionally setting one?

Trump demonstrated on January 6th just how explosive his incendiary words could become, even if he did not personally wield a lighter at the Capitol. Now he casually toys with the idea of a "bloodbath" all over again, the consequences be damned.

Perhaps most disturbingly, Trump's increasingly unhinged rhetoric calls into question whether he is even moored anymore regarding the sanctity of American democracy. During his Ohio speech, Trump bizarrely claimed that Joe Biden had somehow "beat Barack Hussein Obama" in a nationwide election — an utter absurdity that encapsulates how untethered he has become from basic facts and truth.

It paints a portrait of a deeply disturbed demagogue and gives significance to the Democratic claim that he is unfit for power, operating in a completely alternate universe divorced from reality. 

“This is who Donald Trump is,” said a Biden campaign statement in response— “A loser who gets beat by over 7 million votes and then instead of appealing to a wider mainstream audience doubles down on his threats of political violence.”

And yet, in this make-believe world he has constructed for himself and his followers, Trump freely traffics in eliminationist rhetoric of "bloodbaths" and existential fights for the survival of the nation itself. It is the language of fascistic death cults, not responsible democratic leadership. 

Only the most oblivious or deluded could fail to make the connection, say the Democrats. Trump's "bloodbath" intimations are aimed squarely at these "non-people" he portrays as usurpers of the American state whose rightful custodians are his white civic nationalist allies. 

Given his prior normalisation of political violence from the Proud Boys and others, it's impossible to ignore the unmistakable racial menace underlying his words.

Not content to merely threaten his political opponents and inalienable swaths of the electorate, Trump also resorted to vulgar personal attacks on prosecutors bravely upholding the rule of law against his criminal misconduct. He hurled a vulgarity at Fani Willis, the Georgia official prosecuting his criminal election interference while deriding the California governor Gavin Newman as "Gavin New-scum." 

Never has his projection of "Us vs. Them" grievance politics —the permanent campaigning that portrays all defenders of democracy as illegitimate enemies of the people— been laid quite so bare. Trump has gone beyond dog whistles. 

He is openly broadcasting his intent to defy the American system of self-governance, rallying his supporters to view electoral defeat as a justification for bloodthirsty insurrection.

Ultimately, the furore over the "bloodbath" is simply the latest skirmish in the war of democratic accountability that has eternally raged over Trump's presidency:

One side recognises that —regardless of his "intent"— providing him with an open media megaphone to transmit his anti-democratic poison unchecked only fertilises the spread of his malignant cult following. The other sees covering up or downplaying his inflammatory rhetoric as a moral and journalistic failing of censorship, enabling Trump to construct a false reality for his followers. 

There is truth in both perspectives. 

The mere act of broadcasting Trump's rantings, no matter how unfiltered, cannot tell the full horrifying story behind his descent into authoritarian psychosis. Yet for the same reason, distilling and contextualising his vilest rhetorical insinuations remains an essential service to inform the public of the gathering anti-democratic storm he openly hopes to unleash.

Where the media has too often failed is in clearly and forcefully branding Trump's escalating eliminationist language for what it truly represents— the death rattle of American democracy itself. 

Various networks, including CNN, ran a ticker tape repeating that Trump had warned of an “economic bloodbath.” The labelling of it as an “economic” comment is merely a capitulation to Trump harkening about press unfairness to him. In kowtowing to him they forgot to be fair to their audiences, Trump has long benefited as the media have instinctively shied away from calling a raving demagogue, enabling lies and lunacy to proliferate unchecked at catastrophic cost.

Perhaps out of misguided notions of neutrality, perhaps out of fear of being perceived as taking "sides," journalists have willfully downplayed or danced around the naked authoritarianism that has come to define Trump's entire movement. Euphemising his demagoguery as mere "discursive," "freewheeling" rabble-rousing grossly distorts its fundamental insurrectionist core. 

Too often, the dire implications of Trump's sustained assault on democratic governance have been cloaked under an illusory patina of mere "newsworthiness" or gawking curiosity. His insistence that the 2020 election was "rigged" and his open threats of violence if he loses in 2024 are treated as just another set of claims to be politely fact-checked, rather than recognising the rhetorical guidepost these lies represent.

The only service media can provide at this juncture is clear-eyed recognition that when Trump wages rhetorical war on democratic governance, they cannot equivocate or maintain neutrality. To avoid taking a side is to take Trump's side by default.

Trump’s political persona is an attack targeting the American civic fabric.

His "bloodbath" remarks and the avalanche of adjacent insurrectionist dog whistling are not a series of comments to be dispassionately weighed and presented as part of a "both sides" discussion of electoral issues. They are a disturbing glimpse into the abyss— an urgent direct mortal threat to America from its foremost enemy within.

As the media and the rest of American society continue appeasing this authoritarian menace with complacency and equivocation, the blood that is ultimately shed will stain their hands as well. They cannot plead ignorance or neutrality in the face of the malicious anti-democratic dogma that has metastasized from far-right fever swamps into the rhetoric of a major political figure openly fomenting violence and unrest.

In earlier times this would have been instantly recognised for what it truly is — unacceptable, undemocratic, and un-American. There can be no equivocation when the stakes are as high as they are now.

Biden and the Democrats are out to draw a bright moral line. On one side stands the patriotic ideals of freedom and self-rule that have guided America for over two centuries. On the other is Trump's personality cult, drunk on incitements of bloodshed and a thirst for permanent authoritarian rule.

But to resist his authoritarian blandishments, to stand firmly athwart his aspiring tide of "bloodbath" and insurrection? Ah, there's the rub. Such defiance, in Trump's mind, invites only persecution and retaliation against those brave enough. 

But how then to proceed? To interpret it for what it is? Or to believe that he was harmlessly referring to an economic bloodbath. 

The true dilemma that vexes America is one of response: To sheepishly cower from his authoritarian blandishments and the turmoil they portend? Or to meet this rising tide head-on, willing to endure the reprisals that such principled defiance would inevitably incur? 

To Bloodbath, or not to Bloodbath — that is the crucible before Americans.

With the video depicting Biden hogtied and subjugated, Trump has provided the ultimate answer to his rhetorical question of whether to accept a "bloodbath" or not. He has left no ambiguity— this is a man irredeemably committed to inflaming violent insurrection against American democracy if the full force of his authoritarian will is not embraced. 

His escalating dehumanisation of his political rivals proves he views them not as fellow citizens in a constitutional republic, but as subhuman obstacles to be crushed in his quest to stay out of prison by winning the US presidency.

Allowing the continuation of this style of campaigning merely fuels the fires of blood-soaked autocracy that could violently immolate all the history, values and 248 years of democracy and rule of law America has stood for in the world.

Equivocation is complicity.

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