If Thursday night in Cincinnati was any indication, Donald Trump’s “thank you tour” is (shockingly) going to be short on actual thank yous. There will, of course, be the perfunctory “thank you” at the top of the hour to his Rust Belt supporters that managed to drag Trump across the finish line despite appealing to millions fewer American voters than his opponent. But after that, it’s all Trump, as you’ve seen him a million times before: prancing, preening, ungracious, settling scores, recounting old grudges, and outlining a vision of an American future that would seem just laughably implausible, if it weren’t so menacing. The speech felt part talk show, part declaration of war on some undefined, unrecognizable “global” enemy. It makes sense then that Trump theatrically announced his secretary of defense pick on stage Thursday night.
There was no discussion of the tens of millions of Americans that did not vote for him, but, now, must live with him, be represented by him, and have their lives shaped by him. There was no talk of global leadership; instead there was nationalist bluster that sprouted into outright chauvinism. “There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship,” Trump scowled at one point. “We pledge allegiance to one flag. And that flag is the American flag.” That was received by chants of “U-S-A!” from the crowd.
But I know that if we set aside our differences. And we do have differences. We’re a very divided nation. But we’re not going to be divided for long… They separate us by race, by age, by income, by geography, by place of birth. We spend too much time focusing on what divides us. Now is the time to embrace the one thing that truly unites us. Do you know what that is? America, America. It is America… You hear a lot of talk about how we’re becoming a globalized world. But the relationships people value in this country are local. Family, cities, state, country. They are local. We’ll compete in the world. We want to compete in the world, but we’re going to compete in the world where it is a two-way run and not a one way road. The advantages are going to come back to our country. And they haven’t for many, many years. There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag. And that flag is the American flag. [“USA” chants.] From now on it is going to be America first. OK? America first. We are going to put ourselves first. We seek peace and harmony with the nations of the world. But that means recognizing the right of every country, including our own, to look after its citizens.
Trump ungraciously took a moment to bask in his victory over Hillary Clinton: “I’m going to discuss our action plan to make America great again. We’re going to discuss. Although we did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn’t we?”
Trump also outlined his vision of bipartisanism where he noted the “nice part” is “our victory was so great, we have the house, we have the senate and we have the president.”
And I’ve spoken to Democrats. And I’ve said to them, look, we can’t go on with this gridlock. It’s gone on so for so many years. They can’t get together. We’re going to get together. And I believe they want to get together. Do you know why? Because it is time and the people are angry. They are angry. And they are going to get together. We’re going to make joint decisions. We are. And the nice part, our victory was so great, we have the house, we have the senate and we have the president. But we want to get them on board also. People are constantly telling me and telling you to reduce our expectations. Those people are fools. They are fools. But this campaign proved that the old rules no longer apply. That anything we want for our country is now possible. Anything we want. Right? Now is not the time to down size our dreams but to set our sights higher than ever before for our country.
Trump also touched on a familiar line of rhetoric and reasoning when it comes to immigration:
On immigration we will restore the sovereignty of the United States. We will restore the sovereignty. We will finally end illegally immigration. Have to. We will construct a great wall at the border. Dismantle the criminal cartels and liberate our communities from the epidemic of gang violence and drugs pouring into our nation.
Toward the conclusion of his remarks, Trump said, without irony, “Americans must ignore the pessimists and embrace the optimism that has always been the central ingredient of the American character.” Let’s hope they do.