By Franklin Foer
I am your voice … the mystical union of leader and nation. Really, that refrain is the essence of Trump’s authoritarian threat.
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Thursday night’s halting, stagy address may not sound entirely like the improvisational Trump, the true Trump, but it distills the man and his program. And in the end, the program doesn’t really matter. That’s because the inchoate threat keeps changing—Mexican rapists, Islamic terrorists, Black Lives Matter. It’s all just an anarchic mess, beyond the technocratic solutions proposed by desiccated, politically correct elites. These problems can only be solved by a tough leader, a messianic figure from beyond the system. The threats keep changing, but after so many months of running for president, Trump’s solutions have never evolved. They remain just as flimsy and rhetorical as they were when he started, when he didn’t have a policy shop or speechwriters. The solutions still amount to the promise that Trump will win, that his leadership prowess is the palliative, all else is trivial. I alone can fix it.
The sense of crisis is everything for Trump—even if it’s largely invented. His depiction of darkness justifies his candidacy, the need to violently shake the system. His ability to conjure fear is what distinguished him from all those career pols he has vanquished. And it suits his ego. He turned down every entreaty to run for president, beginning in the late 1980s, waiting for the moment when the sense of despair justified his entry into the game. He is the chieftain of destiny. Everything will change for the good with his delivery of the oath of office. Americans will finally wake up …