In Donald Trump’s mind, he singlehandedly saved the phrase “Merry Christmas.” The president has repeated the boast many times, including in June, when he told a religious right audience how “proud” he is of the phrase he pretends to have rescued.
Last night, however, at a rally in south Florida, Trump turned his attention to another upcoming holiday.
He painted a world in which he and the audience united once more in 2020 to fight back against a number of adversaries, including those who wanted to stop saying “Happy Thanksgiving.” (It was unclear who those people were and what they wanted to say instead.)
The president did not appear to be kidding. “You know, some people want to change the name ‘Thanksgiving,’” Trump told his followers, failing to identify who these “people” are. “They don’t want to use the term ‘Thanksgiving’, and that was true also with Christmas, but now everybody’s using ‘Christmas’ again. Remember, I said that? But now we’re going to have to do a little work on Thanksgiving.”
He added, “People have different ideas why it shouldn’t be called ‘Thanksgiving,’ but everybody in this room, I know, loves the name ‘Thanksgiving’ and we’re not changing it.”
Obviously, this is deeply foolish, even by Trump standards. At least when some on the right got hysterical about “Happy Holidays,” conservatives could point to actual examples of people and businesses using the inclusive phrase. There is no comparable effort to change Thanksgiving’s name.
Trump just made it up.
Alas, if recent history is any guide, that probably won’t stop him or his supporters from pretending that nefarious forces – liberals, the “deep state,” journalists, Democrats, quite possibly The Borg – are quietly plotting against Thanksgiving right now. Soon, Trump’s efforts to politicize the holiday will become an article of faith on the right.
And when people continue to say, “Happy Thanksgiving,” just as Americans have done for generations, the president will take credit, as if he alone saved the phrase from its imminent demise.