The One Quote From Donald Trump's 'TIME' Interview You Need To Read To Contextualize This Election
On Wednesday, TIME magazine announced that is has named Donald Trump as TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year. For his cover story, TIME’s Washington Bureau Chief, Michael Scherer, interviewed the President-elect, and though the piece is worth reading in full, there’s one quote from Donald Trump’s TIME interview that stands out as encompassing the deeply embedded contradictions of this year’s election.
TIME magazine has selected a Person of the Year every year since 1927. The honor goes to “the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year.” Previous recipients of the title have ranged from Charles Lindbergh, Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth II, FDR, and Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Nikita Khrushchev. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least. As TIME points out in today’s announcement, where Donald Trump sits in that spectrum of “for better or worse” is a subject of savage disagreement among Americans. Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs writes of the selection,
For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year.
For the magazine’s cover story, Michael Scherer interviewed Trump in his palatial New York penthouse. One quote from Trump highlights just how strange it is that the billionaire has become, for at least some Americans, the voice of the common worker. “What amazes a lot of people is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen,” he told Scherer. “And yet I represent the workers of the world.” He went on to say of the Rust Belt voters who ostensibly won him the election, “I’m representing them, and they love me and I love them.”
In the wake of the election, much has been said about how Trump succeeded by tapping into the anxieties of struggling middle class workers in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. But nothing seems farther from the Rust Belt than the president-elect’s opulent pen Fifth Avenue penthouse; throughout the TIME article, Scherer emphasizes the physical distance that separates Trump’s gold-drenched home, floating 66 stories up in the sky, from the people down below. The dissonance between Trump’s lifestyle and that of his key supporters is something that Trump himself seems to recognize, though he doesn’t seem to be particularly bothered by it.
The strange disconnect between Donald Trump and “the workers of the world” he claims to represent appears set to continue into his administration, with a cabinet that may be the wealthiest in U.S. history, with what Politico speculates could be a collective fortune of $35 billion. (Is this what he meant by “draining the swamp”?) Trump built his campaign on stirring the fears of voters across the country and promising a brighter future to those who felt forgotten by “Washington elites,” all the while being one of the most recognizably elite figures in the world, a contradiction that clearly didn't hurt him during the election. Whatever his claims may be, only time will tell whether Trump will ultimately be able to address the needs of the struggling, middle class Americans who voted for him.