Margaret Valenti breaks down Trump’s kick off re-election rally in Orlando with one question in mind: what’s the cost to democracy to keep Trump in office for four more years?
For Donald Trump, the 2020 reelection campaign rally in Orlando raised nothing new from what he already said on what seems to be a daily basis. He spoke yesterday almost four years to the day since he declared his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. After being introduced by the first lady, he started out by immediately attacking the press stating “I know if we have about three or four empty seats, the fake news will say headlines, he didn’t fill out the arena,” which the crowd responded to with boos.
Trump also claimed at yesterday’s rally that he created a government by the people and for the people during his first term, yet according to Gallup Trump’s average approval rating stands at forty percent which is the lowest of the past fourteen presidents. The fact that he is the result of a broken and unrepresentative political system and that he is an unprecedented figure in politics are the two things he does not lie about. His lie is that his policies create a solution instead of making the problem worse and many would argue that his policies endanger the very democracy he claims to protect.
The Swamp is Trump’s Crutch
Amidst his outright lies and his nationalist ego, it is impossible to claim that what he says about Democrats, which he also calls the radical or far left, is without basis. It allows voters to question whether or not voting Democrat is more morally just than voting Republican. Reducing people to party politics is something the Democratic presidential candidates fight against while Donald Trump seeks to engrain them in everyday life because it works to his advantage. Morally, people want to be on the right side of things.
So, to question someone’s morality always leaves them reeling and often makes them question themselves more than what the speaker says. It is similar to how cults or radical groups indoctrinate people in a one-sided, myopic way: manipulating a person based on their deepest insecurities, playing up their greatest hopes, and making them question themselves until they have no choice but to agree. As much as journalists can fact check Donald Trump as they have done to every single president before him, the overall message of what he says is more important to people, especially if the fact checks are coming from “fake news.” When Mayor Pete Buttigieg says that Democrats are losing the moral battle and need to refocus, he is talking about using the same methods as Donald Trump and beating him at his own game.
He came out with a new slogan for his campaign: KAG or Keep America Great. His overall message is rather simple; politics is so broken that we cannot get anything done and he is going to “clean the swamp.” It is a true message, one that resonates with Democrats, Republicans, minor political parties, and non-affiliated citizens alike. It is also a platform that anyone can run on because it is easy to run on — to claim that you will be the one to destroy corruption in Washington only to contribute to the thing you claim to want to be destroyed.
In this way, politics is cyclical and it is a cycle that is impossible to break, but Trump is the one whose come the closest to breaking it. Until his policies, actions, and words are analyzed carefully, he seems to come from a good place morally. He wants to end poverty and homelessness, create jobs, make the United States a safer place, preserve the sanctity of life and the family, improve the economy, protect the citizen’s right to stand their ground, and ultimately return the United States to the status of the greatest country in the world. Many present and past politicians have run on the same exact platform, and many future politicians will as well.
An Unprecedented President and Reelection Candidate
What makes Trump unprecedented, so good at breaking the system for better or worse, is that he finds loopholes and he has the intelligence to know that he can do things no politician in the past would have dared to consider.
Despite the fact that most Republicans outside of Bill Weld and Justin Amash seem to be loyal to Trump, he is not a party man. He won because he went with the party that seemed most attuned to the voices that he heard and was willing to fight harder for them than anyone else ever did. Whether a particular politician deliberately says things to garner votes or simply cannot wade through the swamp as Trump can, he does almost everything he said he would and he will probably continue down that path. When he fails, he claims that the swamp is sometimes impossible to wade in, even for a man who is willing to declare a national emergency to obtain the money he needed to build a wall on the southern United States-Mexico border. What Trump voters can guarantee from him is that, unlike most politicians, he will do whatever it takes to keep his promises: explore every loophole, obstruct whatever justice, and say whatever he wants, whether the statement is true or false.