The question after Dallas, after Baton Rouge, after Falcon Heights, is whether we are a nation in the midst of crisis or simply a nation in the midst of a presidential campaign.
Hillary Clinton went to the Old State House in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech, to talk about race and how, in Lincoln’s memorable words, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Clinton rightly pointed out that we’re not facing the existential crisis that the country faced before the Civil War. And yet, not surprisingly, her most pointed remarks were on the house-divided part — a campaign-style riff on how Republicans were moving from the party of Lincoln to the party of Trump and how Donald Trump’s demagoguery risked tearing a nation apart.
Meanwhile, Trump, who has memorably said the country couldn’t survive if he lost, has warned of the beginning of a long, hot summer of civil unrest, of “our cities exploding,” of finding ourselves in a time so dangerous that some people have actually “asked for a moment of silence” for the Dallas killer. Except there’s no evidence of anyone ever asking for anything for the killer. Trump was probably thinking of those same people who were celebrating on 9/11 in New Jersey.