In early June, after weeks of national protests in support of racial justice, Donald Trump ignored aides who urged the president to at least try to calm a nation in the grips of unrest. NBC News reported at the time that the Republican used a simple four-word phrase to dismiss protestors and their cause: "These aren't my voters."
The quote, uttered behind the scenes at the White House, wasn't exactly surprising. Throughout his presidency, Trump has left little doubt that he sees himself, not as a leader of a nation, but as the principal organizer for his like-minded followers.
Sure, the president could try to expand his base and win over skeptics, but he prefers to disregard the citizens of his own country who stubbornly refuse to appreciate his perceived genius.
It was an offensive approach to calls for social justice, but just as important is the extent to which Trump brings his "these aren't my voters" attitude to practically every issue. The Washington Post reported this week, for example, on the president being "unreceptive" to advisers who've tried to convince him to "grapple with the reality" of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some in the White House, however, apparently figured out how to get his attention.
In the past couple of weeks, senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among “our people” in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest -- including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said.
This approach, the Post report added, "seemed to resonate."
It is, of course, an indefensible approach to governance. American presidents have a responsibility to care about all of their constituents, not just those they see as political allies.
But Trump is a different kind of leader: one who might as well change his title to the President of the Red States of America.