It was President Donald Trump’s self-extolled signature line from his State of the Union Address that summed up how wrong he is about so many things, and how wrong he still is for the country.
“Americans are dreamers, too,” he boasted, preening for the camera and his Republican fans the House Chamber, even as he said it. He knew line would play well with his base. Whoever wrote it into his speech, and it very well could have been Trump himself, was too disengaged misguided to understand how mercenary it made him.
Immediately, the line was lauded by people who agree with it. They’re people who understand exactly what Trump means when he says, “Americans are dreamers, too.”
“Thank you President Trump,” Ku Klux Klan wizard David Duke said immediately in a tweet. “Americans are ‘Dreamers’ too.”
Like Trump, Duke and hundreds of thousands of dedicated racists, nationalists and white supremacists believe that by lending sympathy to the country’s so-called dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, the rest of America gets less. Somehow by providing support to people who have lived here almost their entire lives, documented citizens are cheated.
It’s a common theme with Trump and white nationalists like him. In the case of Black Lives Matter, much of Trump’s base felt the need to turn the table, saying that white lives matter, too. They believe that by sympathizing with a group of people abused for generations in this country, and many who continue to be abused, that non-black people are somehow diminished. As if racism were a net sum game.
It’s the same for feminism. Trump and many others believe that if we pay women the same, if we ensure they have the same opportunities and the same responsibilities, that men will somehow get less. That they’ll be less.
Trump and his dedicated crew of followers in the White House and Congress govern on this premise. It’s the very core of their political philosophy. If we yield sympathy and support to the Muslims, then Christians are slighted and diminished. If we stand behind equal rights for gays, then straights are cheated out of, what, I’ve never understood. Minority rights mean majority wrongs in the eyes of Trump and his followers.
So he could talk all he wants about a new spirit of collegiality, and how unified we all are under a god that loves the United States best, united under a “single flag.”
It means nothing, because Trump and those who rally around Americans being “dreamers, too,” don’t understand that he can’t unify a country by constantly grouping everyone into “them” and “us.” They entirely miss or refuse to admit the reality that, they are us. All of them.
With a great deal of effort, scripting, rehearsal and theatrics, Trump was able to, for the most part, appear more composed during the speech on Tuesday. The rhetoric was less inflammatory than it was a year ago. The message was the same.
He believes in a nation of unequal groups of people: those who have and dole out the rights, and those who must somehow prove to him they are worthy of being granted rights.
Trump and his supporters really don’t understand that the thousands of “dreamers” in Aurora, and hundreds of thousands more across the country, are every bit as American as any of the rest of us. Our Americanism doesn’t come from our credentials. It comes from our community and our spirit.
I’m sure all the shills in Congress considered Trump’s performance a great success. He said all the “right” things. Neither Trump nor his band of sycophants, however, will ever understand just how fundamentally wrong that really is.
The state of the union? Tenuous.