Listen to a presidential candidate talk, and you usually won’t get far before you hear about how wonderful Americans are. Or not just presidentials – consider any candidate. A candidate for county commissioner almost always will throw in a reference to how wonderful the people of the county are. It’s partly pandering, sure. But partly too it’s a nod toward the essentially good intentions of most people, toward the possibilities of what a people can make of a country.
This is a thread keenly missing from the dark Tapestry of the Donald Trump message.
We’ve heard plenty about all the people and groups insulted and otherwise denigrated by Trump and his campaign. At this point that roster includes nearly all of us. There’s that new list, for example, of 250 people and groups specifically insulted by Trump; but that’s a partial, since it only includes people insulted on Tweets, as opposed to in speeches, interviews or elsewhere.
Candidates in competitive races will go after some people and groups (the opposing candidate and party, to begin with). But the necessary leavening, to keep the mix from curdling, is to throw in notes of confidence about how terrific the American people – overall, as a people – are as well.
That’s normal and standard in both parties. Hillary Clinton’s theme of “stronger together” could have been adopted by a candidate of either party in most years past.
The sentiment – of a good, strong American people who are equal to the problems confronting them – shows up nowhere in Trump’s acceptance speech. There, he paint the picture of an American living in dytopia, bombarded by crime and economic disaster, in need of a savior. He, of course, is that savior; he will save them all by himself. And not only that, they won’t even need a voice in all this: He is the American people. The American people can, well, just shut up.
He does not understand America. – rsShare on Facebook