As all would-be authoritarians do

People with more determination to look straight at unpleasant things than I have watched Trump’s acceptance speech last night, and reported that it was pure fascism, which by that time surprised no one.

The Times says about it:

In the most consequential speech of his life, delivered 401 days into his improbable run for the White House, Mr. Trump sounded much like the unreflective man who had started it with an escalator ride in the lobby of Trump Tower: He conjured up chaos and promised overnight solutions.

To an electorate that remains anxious about his demeanor, his honesty and his character, Mr. Trump offered no acknowledgment, no rebuttal, no explanation.

His demeanor, his honesty, his character and his politics. Let’s not leave that part out, Times. He has a form of politics, and we remain “anxious” about it, which is the understatement of the decade. He has the politics of conjuring up chaos and promising overnight solutions – the politics of racism and hatred and fear, the politics of macho contempt for women and macho love of violent rhetoric.

Inside the Quicken Loans Arena, a thicket of American flags behind him, he portrayed himself, over and over, as an almost messianic figure prepared to rescue the country from the ills of urban crime, illegal immigration and global terrorism.

“I alone,” he said, “can fix it.”

The “Quicken Loans Arena” is a nice touch. Profit is everything, human needs are for losers.

“I alone,” he said, “can fix it.”

But Mr. Trump made no real case for his qualifications to lead the world’s largest economy and strongest military. He is, he said, a very successful man who knows how to make it all better.

Why would that be, exactly? Why would knowing how to gouge out staggering amounts of money from building super-expensive real estate mean he knows how to “fix” the things he identifies as problems or any other national problems? Bernie Madoff built himself a huge fortune too, until the Ponzi scheme collapsed; so what?

The rest of the Times piece is just the same stupid shit Adam Gopnik excoriated in the New Yorker: analysis of what bad campaign strategy it was.

John Cassidy at the New Yorker is not so interested in giving helpful advice to Trump on how to campaign better:

As all would-be authoritarians do, Trump sought to portray himself as the defender of the little guy. “I have visited the laid-off factory workers and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals,” he said. “These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.” And again, toward the end, he used the same phrase after a riff on Clinton’s “I’m with her” slogan. “My pledge reads, ‘I’m with you, the American people. I am your voice,’ ” he said.

Right. The billionaire builder of expensive Manhattan towers is the voice of the working class. You bet.

I was standing next to the delegations from New York and Florida, both of which were Trump strongholds during the Republican primaries. The portions of the speech that received the loudest cheers were the most nativist and controversial bits. When he said, “We don’t want them in our country,” referring to people from Muslim nations with histories of terrorism problems, whom he would bar from the United States, he got perhaps the loudest cheer of the night. And when he said, “We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone, but my greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens,” the chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” were so vigorous that he joined in and gave the chanters a quick thumbs-up.

White people! White people!

Ultimately, Trump’s motivation doesn’t matter very much. The platform that he is running on is divisive and dangerous, and, despite the consensus in the media and political worlds that he is destined to be defeated, it still isn’t entirely clear that his strategy won’t work. After Trump had finished, I asked Congressman John Mica, who represents a district just north of Orlando, and who was standing with the Florida delegation, what he thought of the speech. “He ticked all the boxes,” Mica replied. “I thought he was great.” But weren’t Trump’s words perhaps too dark to appeal to the country at large? Mica thought not. “The emphasis on safety and security,” he said. “I think that is a message that will resonate.”

And if it does we’ll all be in deep deep shit.

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