As always, Donald Trump finds himself in a controvery. This time, he suggested that 2nd amendment supporters will be able to stop the nomination of Supreme Court justices that aren’t supporters themselves:
Here, we have a temporal language problem. Trump speaks, usually, in an epenthetic way, that is to say he inserts small clauses in phrases that have nothing to do with the current phrase. He does this to mitigate the effect of phrases that might be offensive or to remind us that he’s the greatest man in the world (that’s clearly false, so he has to remind us), but on this occasion, he created a temporal incongruence. Here’s the full phrase:
“If she gets to pick her juges, nothing you can do, folks, although the 2nd amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
When Trump states the clause nothing you can do, he uses the present tense in an ambiguous way. It can describe either the present tense or the future tense. What determines the tense is the tense of the phrase in which the clause is found: If she gets to pick her juges. This clause can only mean the future, because she is completely incapable of picking a justice unless she wins the presidency in the future. This marks the rest of the utterance as in the future, after the election, including the clause nothing you can do. As such, there’s only one interpretation: Trump suggests that someone assassinate, with a gun, either the president or the judges, but Trump says that the clause is linked to that which would have happened before the election:
Media desperate to distract from Clinton's anti-2A stance. I said pro-2A citizens must organize and get out vote to save our Constitution!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 10 août 2016
I have no doubte that that’s what Trump meant, but the way in which he said it renders a different meaning. The problem isn’t deciding if he was really promoting the assassination of Clinton or the justices, as the media is debating, it’s deciding if he endangered these people, to which I respond: yes, he doesn’t reflect on what he says, ever, and that is very very dangerous as a president.