Artwork by JACOB THOMAS
NEW YORK TIMES: It was Donald J. Trump’s best chance to escape his own caricature. He did not. After 40 years in the public eye, Mr. Trump decided on Thursday night that he was not interested in revealing himself to America with disarming tales of his upbringing, hard-earned lessons from his tumultuous career or the inner struggles masked by his outward pomposity. In the most consequential speech of his life, delivered 401 days into his improbable run for the White House, Mr. Trump sounded much like the unreflective man who had started it with an escalator ride in the lobby of Trump Tower: He conjured up chaos and promised overnight solutions.
Inside the Quicken Loans Arena, a thicket of American flags behind him, he portrayed himself, over and over, as an almost messianic figure prepared to rescue the country from the ills of urban crime, illegal immigration and global terrorism. “I alone,” he said, “can fix it.” But Mr. Trump made no real case for his qualifications to lead the world’s largest economy and strongest military. He is, he said, a very successful man who knows how to make it all better. Campaign speechwriters from both parties were stupefied. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Welcome to a world without rules. (I want you to read this paragraph in your super-scary movie trailer voice.) Welcome to a world in which families are mowed down by illegal immigrants, in which cops die in the streets, in which Muslims rampage the innocents and threaten our very way of life, in which the fear of violent death lurks in every human heart. Sometimes in that blood-drenched world a dark knight arises. You don’t have to admire or like this knight. But you need this knight. He is your muscle and your voice in a dark, corrupt and malevolent world. Such has been the argument of nearly every demagogue since the dawn of time. Aaron Burr claimed Spain threatened the U.S in 1806. A. Mitchell Palmer exaggerated the Red Scare in 1919 and Joe McCarthy did it in 1950.
And such was Donald Trump’s law-and-order argument in Cleveland on Thursday night. This was a compelling text that turned into more than an hour of humorless shouting. It was a dystopian message that found an audience and then pummeled them to exhaustion. Will it work? […] The argument takes the pervasive collection of anxieties that plague America and it concentrates them on the most visceral one: fear of violence and crime. Historically, this sort of elemental fear has proved to be contagious and it does move populations.
Finally, a law-and-order campaign calls upon the authoritarian personality traits that Donald Trump undoubtedly possesses. The G.O.P. used to be a party that aspired to a biblical ethic of private charity, graciousness, humility and faithfulness. Mitt Romney’s convention was lifted by stories of his kindness and personal mentorship. Trump has replaced biblical commitments with a gladiator ethos. Everything is oriented around conquest, success, supremacy and domination. MORE