For all the defects Donald Trump has as a politician, he does possess certain skills, among them an almost preternatural ability to tap into the sensibilities—the id—of the American right. More than any other Republican candidate in 2016, Trump was in sync with the base of the party. He still is, as he prepares for what looks like another run for the presidency.
Returning to Washington, D.C., for the first time since he left the White House in the aftermath of the violent assault on the Capitol, Trump gave a speech last Tuesday to the America First Policy Institute (AFPI). It was billed as a policy address on public safety. But everyone knows that policy doesn’t interest Trump in the least. What he cares about is the performative part of politics, inflaming people’s passions, creating chaos and conflict. Politics is a stage on which his disordered personality plays itself out.
Like every Trump speech, it was undisciplined. The former president stayed on script and went off script, sometimes reading from his prepared text and other times riffing on topics including tent cities for homeless people, transgender athletes, and election lies. (The riffs are what most charged up the crowd.)
Despite the speech’s unruliness, certain themes in it are worth examining, because they signal what a Trump campaign might look like. And even if he doesn’t run, they reveal the mindset of the American right. These are the pillars of the GOP. [Continue reading…]