Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton came into her own Thursday in Reno. She spoke with righteous anger, painting her rival Donald Trump as a hate-monger beholden to white nationalist causes.
Her voice was firm, her body rooted and steady, her message freighted with urgency: This is a moment of reckoning for America. She combined civic education in her explanation of the alt-right movement, bipartisan outreach (appealing to Republicans by citing noble behavior of their past presidential nominees), and lawyerly dissection of the misguided reasons some conservatives continue to support Trump.
It ranks among her strongest speeches.
Why? Clinton depicted Trump as the rogue politician he is, one who qualitatively differs from all previous GOP nominees. Rogues (whether states or individuals) operate outside accepted norms or principles. This makes them seductive to some, even as they are a threat to most.
Trump positioned himself in this role from the very start. His first alt-right retweets sent a clear sign to disaffected white males: I will fix things, and I’ll do it outside, and against, the system. I’ll say, and show, what others are too cowardly to admit. I’ll make it safe for you to speak publicly, rather than in hushed tones at the local bar or gun show.
And so, from last fall onward, in the alt-right echo chamber online we had Hispanics depicted as border-crossing monkeys, and African-Americans as thugs; and we even had Trump himself casting women as disgusting, fluid-filled creatures; Jews as moneygrubbers.
Trump used Twitter as a focus group for his new brand: Trump,
Twitter also became Trump’s virtual police force, on the hunt for any criticism of the leader and quick to strike. So many of us who have written about Trump have been harassed and threatened, especially if we seem to depart from the white Christian mold. I can tell you from the vitriol posted on my own feed that deportation trends right now, as opposed to cremation ovens a few months ago.
Is it any wonder David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, feels emboldened to run for office? Or that former UN Ambassador John Bolton, speaking on Fox News Thursday, feels free to say that people are being destructive if they identify as black or Hispanic?
This fringe, angling itself into the mainstream, courtesy of Trump, wants