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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters and signs autographs after a campaign stop in Spencer, Iowa, Dec. 5, 2015. (Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

From 'Yes we can' to 'I alone can fix it'

07/22/16 08:30AM

At roughly this point eight years ago, when Democrats were desperate to reclaim the White House after two terms of a Republican president, then-Sen. Barack Obama accepted the party's nomination and delivered a speech that emphasized unity. "In America, our destiny is inextricably linked," he said, "that together our dreams can be one."
The speech used the word "we" constantly. "America, we cannot turn back," Obama said. "We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future."
The campaign's slogan, of course, was "Yes we can."
It was therefore a little jarring last night to hear one of the more memorable lines from Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican convention: "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it." He added, "I will restore law and order to our country."
Trump concluded, "I am your voice."
The language was a little jarring, as The Atlantic's Yoni Appelbaum explained very well.
[Trump] did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.
He broke with two centuries of American political tradition, in which candidates for office -- and above all, for the nation's highest office -- acknowledge their fallibility and limitations, asking for the help of their fellow Americans, and of God, to accomplish what they cannot do on their own.
To be sure, the Republicans in attendance didn't seem to mind. The more Trump positioned himself as the nation's savior, the more the crowd cheered.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by John Moore/Getty)

Trump's bold vision: Make America Hide Under the Bed Again

07/22/16 07:50AM

Fear is a powerful instinct. Fear is so potent, and the innate drive to protect one's self from harm is so overpowering, that it can override almost every other instinct, including those related to intellect and judgment.
Which is why Donald Trump desperately wants to frighten you.
The obvious problem with the Republican presidential nominee's convention speech last night is that it was less a speech and more a series of strung together scary falsehoods. In the actual United States, crime rates have dropped, but Trump insists they've increased. In our reality, illegal border crossings have fallen, but in Trump's mind, they've skyrocketed.
For those who care about facts, the United States has fairly low tax rates among industrialized democracies, but in Trump's version of reality, "America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world." The truth is that the killing of police officers in the line of duty is down, but Trump nevertheless wants you to believe the exact opposite. In reality, Iran is not even close to the path to nuclear weapons. In Trump's mind, "Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons."
Early on in his speech, the GOP nominee declared, "[H]ere, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else." Trump then lied in literally the next sentence.
For more along these lines, I'd encourage readers to check out many of the detailed fact-checking pieces that were published overnight.
But let's not miss the forest for the trees: Trump wasn't just lying for the sake of routine deception or even for self-aggrandizement; he was lying because it was the only way to leave the audience terrified. If he told the truth, voters wouldn't be frightened, and if voters aren't frightened, he's going to lose the election.
And so Americans were treated to the kind of demagoguery rarely heard from a presidential candidate of any era. Trump wants you to be afraid of criminals. And immigrants. And Democrats. And refugees. And government regulations. And quite possibly the monster that could be hiding under your bed.


About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.



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