I hold no brief for Donald Trump, a point of qualification I should not have to make but one that circumstances commit me to disclose. For there is very little difference between Trump’s promises to Make America Great Again, as if the country is like one of the Big Three automakers, bankrupt and as decrepit as the city, Detroit, where it makes its cars; prone to unfair competition, foreign tariffs, conflicts between labor and management, and political corruption within the very metropolis where workers see — and live amongst— the detritus of an urban nightmare of abandoned homes, broken roads, arson, and a streetscape of darkened lights and burning rooftops; a landscape polluted by patronage, and a school system as segregated as any institution of the Jim Crow South.
If there is outrage about Trump’s rhetoric, if there is partisan anger about his brand of nostalgia and wish fulfillment, where, may I ask, is the disgust toward our current president; a man whose respective campaigns for the White House are the sum total of two meaningless words, HOPE and FORWARD?
How elastic is President Obama’s perceived arc of the universe, when the black citizens of our major cities hear the same words, albeit with a different inflection, from a nationalist versus a cosmopolitan elitist?
If Obama’s brand of hope is emotionally uplifting but economically empty, if children can only go to a school that is a warehouse rather than a temple of education, if gangs continue to control the flow of commerce and cops refuse to police these dens of criminality, if, in the final analysis, we let presidential candidates sedate us with promises while they neglect our need for policies, what, then, is the difference between a known charlatan and a very good actor with an exotic name and a broad smile?
There is nothing new about the pronouncements by Donald Trump, except the tenor of his voice and the timbre of his pitch to the American people.