Donald Trump delivered a speech tonight that was the bleakest, darkest, most dystopian, nativist, and fascist I’ve ever heard delivered by an American politician.
I wish this was an exaggeration, but it is not. Trump eschewed the usual candidate tradition of laying out actual policies. He rejected a call for national unity and bringing the country together under a shared set of values and ideals. Instead, he painted the image of a country riven by lawlessness and chaos — buffeted by threats both from home and abroad. And he promised that he alone, through the force of his tremendous talent and will, is the one man who can fix America’s problems. “Believe me, believe me,” he told the enthusiastic delegates.
Jobs will be created in Trump’s America. Everyone will get rich. Law and order restored. “I am your voice.” How you ask? Believe me, believe me, the GOP’s presidential candidate told us, without offering a single solution.
This is the authoritarian mindset. The great leader riding on horseback to smite America’s enemies and make an allegedly broken and dysfunctional country great again. There was no “we” in this speech, but rather all “I” — all Trump.
On the bright side, this was such an angry, divisive speech that it’s hard to imagine it appealing to anyone who is not a Republican. Conventions are supposed to be four-day infomercials that give candidates and parties the unrivaled opportunity to push out an unvarnished message to all Americans. Instead, Trump’s speech and virtually every other moment of this convention was the political equivalent of doling out red meat to hungry lions.
But writing this off as Trump simply catering to his supporters or the GOP base is too easy. All Americans must look hard at what it says about our country that a man such as this — espousing such views, such intolerance, and such darkness — could ever be nominated for president of the United States. And that reflection must start now.
Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.