Trump says he alone can fix it.
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
At the end of a week in which Donald J. Trump threatened a wave of “death and destruction” if he was arrested, it was not considered a good sign that he was ending it with a rally in Waco, Texas, near the 30th anniversary of the fiery FBI siege of a religious cult’s compound that made the city infamous. Would he declare war on U.S. law enforcement, comparing his alleged persecution to that of the Branch Davidians in Waco and of various right-wing militia figures elsewhere? Or might he just raise the temperature of the political system enough that violence could break out by spontaneous combustion?
Not exactly. Most of his address was more like an exercise in the banality of apocalyptism. After the former president took the stage, he stood with his hand over his heart while the PA system blasted “Justice for All” — the new single Trump released featuring him reciting the Pledge of Allegiance backed by a choir of imprisoned January 6 rioters singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” In his speech, he warned that the 2024 presidential election was America’s “final battle.” He raged at the prosecutors (“absolute human scum”) who are threatening him. He expressed his usual contempt for political enemies, ranging from the “Communists and Marxists” of the Democratic Party to the “globalists and RINOs” of his own party. And he continued his drive-by attacks on potential rival Ron DeSantis, highlighting the Florida governor’s disloyalty to him and hostility to farmers and retirees.
Then at the end, as his closing music swelled, Trump offered the most scorching, systematic denunciation of his country any alleged super-patriot has ever delivered. It made the famously dark “American Carnage” inaugural address of 2017 seem like something from Sesame Street. The climax of Trump’s 2024 stump speech is pitch-black doom and gloom:
We are a failing nation. We are a nation with the highest inflation rate in 50 years, where banks are collapsing and interest rates are far too high. We are a nation where energy costs have reached their highest level in our history. … We are a nation that is consumed by the radical left’s new deal … [that] everyone knows … will lead to our destruction.
And America’s horribleness infects others:
We are a nation that surrendered in Afghanistan, leaving behind dead soldiers, American citizens, and 85 billion dollars of the finest military equipment anywhere. We are a nation that allowed Russia to devastate a country, Ukraine, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and it will only get worse. … Taiwan will be next.
Freedom, meanwhile, has all but been extinguished:
We are a nation that is hostile to liberty, freedom, and faith. We are a nation whose economy has collapsed … whose stores are not stocked, whose deliveries are not coming, and whose educational system is at the very bottom of every single list. Large packs of sadistic criminals and thieves are able to systemically rob stores and beat up their customers and workers and leave with armloads of goods with no retribution. … Where the authority of our great police has been taken, where their families and patient — and pensions have been threatened, and their lives were being destroyed because of the the mere mention of the words law enforcement. … Fentanyl and illegal drugs are more easy to get than formula for our babies. …
We are a nation that no longer has a free and fair press. Fake news is all you get, and they are the enemy of the people. We are a nation where free speech is no longer allowed.
And oh my God, the airports are like those of, well, shithole countries:
[We are] a nation where once great airports are dirty, they are a crowded mass, you sit and wait for hours and then are notified that the plane won’t leave and they have no idea when it will … where ticket prices have tripled, they do not have the pilot to fly the plane, and they do not have qualified air traffic controllers, and they just do not know what what the hell they are doing.
Worst of all, the president is not Donald Trump:
[W]e have a man who is the worst president in the history of our country. Who is cognitively impaired, in no condition to lead. And is now casually talking about nuclear war with Russia. He has no idea what he is even talking about.
We are a nation that lost its confidence, willpower, and strength. We are a nation that has lost its way. We are not going to allow this horror to continue. Two years ago, we were a great nation, and we will soon be a great nation again. We will liberate America from these villains and tyrants who are looking to destroy our country no matter what they throw at us, no matter what they do to us, we will not bend, we will not break, we will not yield. we will never give in, we will never give up, we will never ever back down.
No wonder this man who surrounds himself with flags began this address with a recording of him leading convicted and imprisoned insurrectionists in the national anthem. Trump can no longer present himself as someone storming into a broken political system to reverse many decades of failure and decay; he’s claiming this unbelievable near-destruction of the United States has happened in just the past two years, and that destruction will be complete by 2024 if he’s not returned to power. No wonder he can never accept defeat. It’s not his country at all if he loses.