Given recent violence in Texas, Minnesota, and Louisiana, race is very much on the minds of many Americans, including Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee sat down with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly last night, where Trump was able to explain why he believes he can relate to African Americans.
O’REILLY: There [are] still some black Americans who believe that the system is biased against them. The American system because they’re black, they don’t get the same kind of shot, they don’t get the same kind of fairness that whites do. What do you say to them?TRUMP: Well, I have been saying even against me the system is rigged when I ran as a, you know, for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system and the system is rigged.
When the host told the candidate this sentiment probably won’t lift anyone’s spirits, Trump responded, “No, what I’m saying is they are not necessarily wrong. I mean, there are certain people where unfortunately that comes into play. I’m not saying that. And I can relate it really very much to myself.”
Asked if he believes he can understand the African-American experience, Trump added, “You can’t truly understand what’s going on unless you are African-American. I would like to say yes, however.”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
First, let’s quickly note that the GOP’s presidential nominating process was not, in reality, “rigged” against the candidate who prevailed. Trump didn’t understand how states chose delegates to the national convention, but that doesn’t mean the system itself was manipulated unfairly.
Second, for Trump to believe his experiences winning the Republican nomination helps him “relate” to African Americans is so painfully bizarre, it would do real and lasting harm to a normal presidential candidate.
But even if we put this aside, one of the most striking things about Trump’s perceptions of current events is his narcissistic myopia. For Trump, the importance of the mass-shooting in Orlando is something he once said on Twitter. For Trump, the importance of Brexit is how it might affect his golf course. For Trump, the importance of African-American alienation is how similar it is to his treatment during the GOP primaries.
Ask Trump about almost any issue, and he’s likely to respond with a sentiment that boils down to, “That reminds me of me.”
To put it mildly, it’s an alarming personality trait.