The United States is having an unprecedented run of success at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Huge portions of America are tuning in every night to see American athletes medal in seemingly every event, often by large margins. Hillary Clinton is taking advantage of the opportunity to regularly tweet congratulations to American athletes and keep herself as part of the conversation.
Politico noticed that Trump isn’t tweeting about the Olympics, though. Like, at all. Not since the opening ceremonies, in a tweet that was almost certainly done by his staff. You might ask, given Trump’s almost relentless surface appeal to patriotism bordering on jingoism, why Trump isn’t getting in on this action.
Well, the answer is pretty simple, and Politico nails it. Trump’s appeal isn’t to patriotism, it’s to people who believe that America used to be great, but isn’t anymore (thanks mainly to the damn foreigners). When the USA succeeds or does well, it doesn’t really fit with Trump’s narrative that the country needs him to fix it all again.
As our own Sara Gonzales has noted before:
There has never been a more perfect description of Donald Trump. Everything that comes from his mouth is negative and nasty. He leaves those around him feeling depressed, angry, and scared. He drains happiness out of the air around him and replaces it with fear and despair. Worst of all, he loves it. He thrives off of it.
And as I noted right after the Republican convention, when Trump had his one brief lead, Trump needs the country to wallow in despair and anger for him to have a chance; Trump simply can’t appeal effectively to happy people:
Not exactly a pretty picture. Whatever you will say about Trump, he has correctly perceived that people do not feel good about the future of America, and the Democrats are taking a huge risk by telling everyone that everything is okay. I get that there is a need to defend and bolster Obama’s legacy heading into this election. I furthermore get that, by a lot of leading indicators, there’s no objective reason for people to be this pessimistic about the direction America is heading in.
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But what Trump is getting right is that America really is in the midst of a pretty serious sulk right now. Many of the reasons for it are sort of inchoate and not very well articulable, but it’s a real feeling and Trump is engaging it – and the fact that he just moves on in a shotgun fashion from grievance to grievance without regard for the actual factual truths matches the mood of America pretty well.
Trump needs for this to continue. So he can’t really engage in anything that causes national pride anymore; only national embarrassment.
This isn’t an isolated thing for Trump, either. When global communism was floundering, the Berlin Wall was about to fall, and America was at her probable absolute apex militarily, Trump was out there saying the Chinese were much stronger than the Americans, that Gorbachev was making Bush look weak, and that the first Gulf War embarrassed us. He’s been running this “America sucks these days” schtick for the better part of 30 years. He just finally found the political moment in which it would work.
If you are a person who actually wants America to succeed and do well, voting Trump is probably a bad idea, because he clearly does not share that goal.
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