A small sadness of Donald Trump’s political career is that I and other liberals might welcome parts of his style if a liberal had used them.
Liberals would love someone who wielded refreshingly honest, cut-the-crap jabs to cut through soft, wimpy-lipped, inside-the-Beltway euphemisms and carefully molded campaign phrases that sound like they’ve emerged from ten computer algorithms and twenty focus groups. We’d hail him as a new Harry Truman.
Bernie Sanders gave it a great try, but Trump was the more ruthless phrasemaker: Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Little Marco Rubio, Crooked Hillary Clinton, I will make Mexico pay for that wall, even Make America Great Again. I don’t know if Trump concocted those lines himself, but he chose to make them his slogans.
Even when Trump says something untrue, his admirers don’t appear to care much. Their attitude seems to be “So what if he’s not Professor Precise? At least he means what he says. Even if he’s wrong — and a lot of what he says feels right to me, even if some decimal-checking poindexter says it’s not perfectly correct — I’ll take a guy who sounds real and talks straight over some slippery politician who says stuff he can weasel out of or a so-called ‘expert’ who shades everything with lots of vague exceptions.”
Trump never seems to hold back his feelings, even when he lies. That’s his version of authenticity. And Americans love people who project authenticity: A rapper who sounds like a bone-hard survivor of dangerous streets, or a country star who sings like he’s never seen a city except Nashville.
I’m not saying that I want a liberal who lies as wildly as Trump, boasts as endlessly about himself, or is as quick to vilify anyone who doesn’t yessir-yessir him.
But someone full of genuinely held liberal principles that spray out in raw, direct, colorful rhetoric could give Trump quite a fight.