To celebrate his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump held a rally in Harrisburg.
There, in the capital of a state he was not supposed to win, Trump expressed what a president is not supposed to say. In brash, provocative terms, he threatened sitting Congressmen and berated the national media. He spoke of law and order and a crackdown against the undocumented.
It was all vintage Trump, and his faithful followers loved it.
In one breath, he said that we are all Americans who share the same glorious freedoms. In the next breath, he castigated the media for engaging in a freedom that is granted by the Constitution. Then, in a speech that teetered between touting his accomplishments and skewering his opponents, he basked in the adoration of the crowd.
To be sure, Trump’s act has worn thin for those on the other side of the aisle. And while I don’t support President many of Trump’s policies because they seem to target racial, ethnic and religious minorities, I am nonetheless coming to realize the source of his appeal.
Donald Trump is, above all else, committed to being himself. That’s a quality liberals should embrace.
That means admitting that we are not all card-carrying members of the ACLU, or the NAACP. It means acknowledging that some of us are uncomfortable with the rapid changes we’ve seen in American society. It means plunging, unafraid into a place where we can voice our disagreement with the latest social fad.
It means aligning our principals with what’s right instead of what’s popular.
I’m afraid my party, the Democrats, have become so concerned with appearing to stand for everything, we are in danger of standing for nothing. We are so eager to appear progressive, that we are increasingly unwilling to listen to anyone who voices even the slightest disagreement.
Perhaps it’s time for us to do a little soul-searching, and to admit the shortcomings that have cost us so many seats in Congress, state legislatures, gubernatorial races, and ultimately, the White House. Maybe it’s time for the Democratic Party to take off its mask.
The party pretends to be inclusive, yet its leadership remains dominated by white males, and its voters harbor many of the same prejudices as their conservative counterparts in the GOP.
That truth came into focus for me last summer, when I scanned the results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll. It said that almost half of Donald Trump’s supporters described African Americans as more “violent” and “criminal” than whites. About 40 percent of Trump supporters said African Americans were lazier than whites.
Then I read further, and found that the data said something even more revealing.
Almost one-third of Hillary Clinton’s supporters also described African Americans as more “violent” and “criminal” than whites. About one-in-four called us lazier than whites.
While racial attitudes don’t say everything about the parties, they reveal that they’re more similar than we think.
And so while Democrats break their necks trying to be something they’re not, Donald Trump has decided to be himself. He will deliver divisive speeches, deal in alternative facts, attack his enemies with gusto, and engage in blatant nepotism.
His followers see those shortcomings as clearly as the rest of us do, but they don’t care, because they see Trump as someone who is genuine.
I believe Democrats can learn something from that. But first we have to learn who we are.
Once we do that, we can share our true identity with the world, and like Donald Trump, we can let the chips fall where they may.
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