Trump’s Candidacy: The Discussion We Should Be Having


It’s hard to move the media discussion past Donald Trump’s rather sensational comments, in which he stereotyped Mexican immigrants as “rapists.”

But my guess would be Trump’s sensational comments are not what explain his popularity. I would attribute that to these comments, from an interview with Bill O’Reilly, and the mindset they embody:

“They will pay for the wall, and the wall will go up. And Mexico will start behaving,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly last week. 

Trump said he knows just how to fix things, starting with China. “Twenty-five percent tax on China, unless they behave,” he said.

Note the common thread: Other countries and their populations must “behave.”

Just like Native Americans had to behave.

And slaves.

And uppity blacks.

And, of course, Muslims and other inhabitants of land under which oil sits.

This is the ugly underbelly of “American exceptionalism.” You can’t separate the two. To subscribe to “American exceptionalism” means to believe, deep down inside, that America is ordained to make others “behave.”

Or, to complete the thought, “behave in the manner we Americans have decided they must behave.” Or else.

This of course is a discussion about Trump’s comments we’ll never have, other than on blogs such as this one and some Facebook threads. Why? Well, the Republican Presidential candidates won’t confront Trump’s vile comments about Mexicans being rapists. But his imperious belief that America should be in the business of making others behave? Even the Democrats won’t touch that. They’re afraid doing so would make them appear weak. Ironic, huh?

And too many Americans who hear Trump’s determination to make others behave relate to his muscular tone. After all, it’s not uncommon to confuse power and strength. Trump’s bellicosity makes them feel strong. So he’ll get their votes.


  1. Even worse than what The Donald said is the fact that so many people support him. What the hell are these people thinking or consuming?

  2. Before reading your comments, I thought Trump’s support was coming from people who agreed with his comments but were too embarassed to say those things themselves. After reading your comments, I tend to agree with you that, for a certain percentage of his followers, American exceptionalism may be a root cause. However, I still think that for the majority of his followers, it is not that profound or complicated, it is simple racial bigotry. After all, his followers are white and his villians are Mexicans and Chinese.

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