Donald Trump Plead For A Unity Even He Knows Is't Happening
For all of the weirdness that he's brought into the American political system throughout the campaign, the Donald Trump who took the stage early on Wednesday morning seemed a changed man. Trump's acceptance speech contained a plea for unity and included gracious lines about Hillary Clinton and many others, which at first glance may seem to be the beginning of a healing process. However, given the campaign that he has waged and the ideas that he's espoused in order to gain popularity, unity is almost certainly not what the country should expect to see during a Trump presidency.
Take a minute to look back and the first splash that Trump made in his campaign. The benign messages of infrastructure improvement and support for everyone never could have brought him so much attention as saying that Mexican immigrants were rapists and that Mexico needed to pay for a beautiful new border wall. While the wall, which would become Trump's most recognizable "policy proposal" and a veritable rallying cry for every moment when his crowds seemed too quiet, wouldn't divide the country from itself, it would draw a line between Americans of Mexican descent and their compatriots. Trump proved this himself with his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curio, an American with Mexican ancestry. Already, this is not a "president for all Americans".
The people supporting Trump did not support him for messages of unity, which is not to say anything about their desire for national unity or lack thereof. Perhaps many people who voted for him were thrilled to see him change his tune at his acceptance speech. Trump's campaign, however, simply did not offer any messages of unity for anyone to support.
Instead, it offered messages of exclusion, both explicit and implicit. His proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. was probably the most glaring example, but there were plenty of others to be had. Trump cozied up to the Alt-Right, normalizing nativist sentiments that had so far only existed on the fringe. Although he didn't ask for them, he got compliment after compliment from representatives of the KKK. His refusal to push things like this away sent a definite message to everyone who wouldn't be accepted in those groups — liberals, African Americans, children of immigrants, Muslims, disabled people, Jews, the LGBTQ community, you name it. This isn't even to mention the sexism and misogyny — a man who literally brags about sexually assaulting women could hardly turn out to be a feminist.
So while Trump's acceptance contained plenty of platitudes about how he'll improve the country for everyone in it, it's clear to everyone that Trump mocked or attacked in the past that they'll remain empty promises. In order to please the base that elected him, he'll need to act on those policies of exclusion. To those who those policies do not include: your best hope is that he will not be able to achieve his original promises, the ones he made during his campaign — and then maybe the people who believed them will desert him too.