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:
Note the common thread: Other countries and their populations must “behave.”
Just like Native Americans had to behave.
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.