The Darkest Lines From The 'TIME' Person Of The Year Donald Trump Story That Capture His Confusing Success
TIME magazine just published its 2016 "Person of the Year" issue, and that person is Donald Trump. In the extensive stories accompanying the ominous cover announcement, a portrait of a wholly new kind of American leader emerges. Trump defied expectations at every step, from decimating all 16 Republican primary rivals to beating Hillary Clinton by winning the electoral bounty of rust belt states that hadn't gone red since Ronald Reagan. It's been a long year, and these are some of the darkest quotes from TIME's "Person of the Year" issue that highlight Trump's confusing rise and success.
Trump's defiance of so-called "political correctness" won him the trust of voters fed up with Washington, and his billionaire status gave millions a reason to trust that his business know-how could lead the country to better economic times. TIME recognized his remarkable achievement by making him their official person of the year.
But that title alone leaves out the swarm of scandals that animated Trump's campaign, and it ignores the slew of questionable advisers and confidantes that Trump has surrounded himself with. Throughout TIME's piece, these darker elements of his campaign, and what they portend for his coming tenure as POTUS, are impossible to ignore. Add to that Trump's seeming ignorance or disregard for typical standards of political conduct, and the picture becomes even more disconcerting.
Here are some of the most frightful quotes from the 2016 "Person of the Year" issue:
1. He Views The Presidency As A Performance
"This is the presidency as improv, as performance art, with good guys, bad guys, and suspense," TIME's politics editor Michael Schrerer said of Trump's business deals.
During one of Trump's meetings with reporters, he engaged in blatant play-acting with his soon-to-be Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. Trump asked Priebus to provide him with a "list of companies that have announced they're leaving," as in, planning to move their operations out of the country. Trump said he'd call each one, promising that "They won't be leaving. O.K.?" But as Scherer pointed out, Trump had already called Ford, not to mention that his interference with private business decisions is anathema to politicians on both sides, from Bernie Sanders to Sarah Palin.
This was not about sound policy, but rather theater. And everyone should be wary of a leader willing to sacrifice good governance in favor of media attention.
2. Trump Came To Power By Exploiting Anger And Fear
Part of the reason few predicted Trump's defeat of Clinton was the woeful underestimation of voter outrage. As Nancy Gibbs pointed out in her introduction to TIME's cover story on Trump, he was able to win through "empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears.” Later in his article on Trump, TIME writer Michael Scherer also points out that “Instead of painting a bright vision for a united future, he [Trump] magnified the divisions of the present.” Trump has set a precedent for presidential victory via fear-mongering. And that is dangerous indeed.
3. Trump Is About To Take Command Of The World's Most Powerful Military
The President-elect is on record saying he would force the military to break its own laws by targeting the family members of terrorists, including children. He's also said he'd bring back waterboarding, while alluding to instituting other forms of "much worse" torture. And as Michael Scherer writes, "He will soon command history's most lethal military." God help us all.
4. The Middle Class Is Shrinking, With No End In Sight
Working class voters carried Trump to victory; he garnered a stunning 67 percent from white voters who lacked a college degree. And as Scherer makes clear in his article on Trump, there is ample evidence that falling wages and job loss for non-college educated Americans will continue one. "The size of the middle classes, as measured by those who earn 25% above or below the median income, dropped in the U.S. from the 1980s to 2013." Without widespread economic revival, working class voters will just keep feeling marginalized and abandoned. Given the desperation already on display during much of 2016, that is a frightening reality to contemplate.
5. Trump Considers Everyone As Either A "Winner" Or A "Loser"
Rather than offer policy details, or any specifics at all about the how of #MAGA, Trump's message rooted down into a primal human instinct: to see the world in zero-sum terms. America was a chump getting taken for the proverbial ride by other "smart" countries who knew how to manipulate and bargain. "His was not a campaign about the effects of tariffs on the price of batteries or basketball shoes. He spoke only of winning and losing, us and them, the strong and the weak." Scherer nails it again, going on to point out that the trade wars Trump nonchalantly implied could absolutely result in "actual wars." No one wants to see what a real, mass-scale war looks like in the 21st century.
6. Trump's Success Despite His Blatant Bigotry
The examples here are too numerous for a listicle. Scherer references an underreported instance of Trump's nastiness towards Muslims: "He would tell an allegory about Muslim refugees entering the U.S. that cast those families fleeing violence as venomous snakes, waiting to sink their fangs into “tenderhearted” women." This is the gist of Trump's infamous "snake poem," one he would often read aloud at rallies. Voters either did not care at all, or did not care enough, that Trump had displayed racism, sexism, and a kind of generalized, vaguely-defined xenophobia throughout much of his campaign. And that sets an ominous precedent.
7. An Open Celebration Of Darkness
Everyone will by now be familiar with Steve Bannon, Trump's new chief strategist. But they may not know that Bannon admitted that he is totally OK with negative campaigning, telling the Hollywood Reporter, "Darkness is good." As Scherer immediately recognizes, "This is the method of a demagogue." It the choice to demonize one group of people in order to stir up support amongst another. It is the deliberate move to benefit off strife born of tribalism. And it is a mentality now housed within the White House itself.
2016 has been a confusing and dark time, and these seven lines from the TIME story about Trump show just how bizarre things have been over the past year.