U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center in West Allis, Wis., on Dec. 13, 2016.
Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Trump seems eager to make national divisions much worse

It’s fairly common for national leaders to extend best wishes to the public as one calendar year ends and another begins. President Obama said via Twitter yesterday, for example, “It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year everybody.”

Donald Trump had a related message of his own, but take a moment to appreciate the not-so-subtle difference between the president-elect’s message and that of the current president.
As 2016 comes to a close, world leaders appear just as eager to start fresh in the new year. President-elect Donald Trump, however, couldn’t let this year go without taking another dig at his critics.

“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” he tweeted Saturday morning.
Note, there’s nothing to suggest Trump’s Twitter feed was hacked by an intemperate child trying to make the president-elect look petty or intentionally ridiculous. This sentiment reflects Trump’s actual New Year’s sentiment.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joked in response to Trump’s message, “This is the exact same tweet my nephew sent when he won middle school class treasurer. Word for word. Uncanny.”

A day earlier, Politico reported that Trump “ejected from his West Palm Beach golf course one of his most critical biographers, Harry Hurt III, who had been preparing to play in a foursome with billionaire mega-donor David Koch.” Apparently, Trump is still bothered by a 1993 book about him, and he argued with the author about the biography’s accuracy after Hurt tried to congratulate Trump for his election victory.

Do you ever get the feeling Trump doesn’t care about moving past old conflicts in order to help bring people together?

Ron Brownstein recently explained in The Atlantic that the president-elect really isn’t making any effort to “reconcile the country” after a contentious and divisive campaign.
[T]hrough his tumultuous transition, Trump has made little attempt at national reconciliation. At his post-election rallies, he has continued to launch sweeping denunciations of the news media; he’s regularly directed disparaging tweets toward voices critical of him (an Indiana union leader, Bill Clinton, the cast of Broadway’s Hamilton) and belittled the intelligence community’s conclusions about Russian hacking; he’s made the inflammatory and unfounded accusation that “millions of people … voted illegally”; and he’s claimed “a historic electoral landslide victory” – even though his electoral college margin ranked in the bottom fourth of elections to date, and even though he lost the popular vote by more votes than any winner ever. […]

Simultaneously, Trump has appointed a Cabinet and White House staff that braid the competing factions of the Republican Party, but offer virtually no outreach to voters beyond them.
This, of course, was before Trump wrapped up his self-congratulatory tour – the president-elect, without exception, limited his events to “red” states – and extended New Year’s wishes to his “many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do.”

The night he won the election, Trump declared, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; [we] have to get together.” But it’s important to understand what he thinks that means: for the president-elect, the task of uniting Americans means he’ll gladly welcome his detractors who are now willing to embrace Donald J. Trump and accept his awesomeness.

Or as the Washington Post’s Philip Bump put it, “Past presidents have similarly entered office to lead a divided nation. For Trump, the path to unity is narrow: Stop complaining about him and unify around him.”

The question is what the president-elect – who received nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent and won thanks in part to intervention from the FBI director and a Russian espionage operation – is prepared to do to cultivate support from those who didn’t vote for him.

As recently as New Year’s Eve, the answer seems surprisingly straightforward: nothing.


Donald Trump

Trump seems eager to make national divisions much worse