Tuesday’s upcoming State of the Union speech got a lot of buzz over the weekend. For any citizen who objects to a lying, divisive, arrogant, incompetent, mean spirited, fear-mongering president, watching Trump for more than a few seconds can be disgusting, but a long speech full of his bullshit, resentment and grievance is, for many, flat-out unbearable. Pity the journalists for whom it’s a requirement.
E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote a great preview and analysis of the SOTU last night in the Washington post, and one of his points is worth spotlighting:
Trump can never get too upbeat, because he decided long ago that his political project depends on inciting anxiety and anger as well as hostility toward (nonwhite) outsiders. This requires him to conjure a dystopian world because what he fears most is a world in which fear is abating.
Here’s the full link:
With significant and constant help from propaganda outlets like Fox, Limbaugh, and InfoWars, the GOP has become the the party of fear-mongering while Trump has become head Fearleader. According to Trump, our nation and neighborhoods are occupied by a swarming army of murdering and raping Mexicans. If I took his rhetoric seriously I would never go outside. Of course, the facts paint the exact opposite picture:
It’s a fact that violent crime is near all-time lows in most parts of our nation. It’s a fact that immigrants have lower rates of perpetrating crime than citizens born here. It’s a fact that border crossings, and arrests for border crossings, are near a 50-year low.
Gaslighting aside, Trump cares less about the border wall than he does about the issue of the border wall. If he doesn’t get his border wall, he will whine to his base: “You see, those bad Democrats hate America and want you to get raped and murdered!” And if he does get his wall, he will brag to his base: “I’m such a great negotiator! We’re building the wall I promised. I beat those awful libs. Shower me with praise.” Either outcome gives Trump something powerful to sell to his cult of terrified and resentful partisans.
Trump and the GOP rely on fear. They’ve done it for decades. The Red Scare. Willie Horton. Welfare queens. Gay marriage! They’ll take your guns. Deficits.
But in an interconnected age where claims can be fact checked, a large portion of the public won’t fall for the propaganda any more. You’ll hear it on Tuesday–Trump will give yet another version of “American carnage.” But only his deluded little band of cultists will care. The rest of us will look on in horror that this know-nothing con man is still at the helm of our executive branch.
Don’t let fear beat the facts. And keep resisting…