Trump mixes grievance politics with everyday GOP issues


Former President Donald J. Trump has consistently generated headlines during the election campaign for his apocalyptic, often violent rhetoric and for his extreme policy proposals that would reshape long-entrenched norms of American government.

They include his promise to use the Justice Department to prosecute his enemies, his declaration that he would be a dictator but only on the first day of his presidency, and his use of language reminiscent of authoritarian leaders.

But those comments revolve around more traditional political statements. A significant portion of Trump's campaign speech focuses on core conservative issues that are the bread and butter of Republican politics.

Although they attract less media attention, their statements on these issues, which often border on the truth, seem to resonate more with their audiences. These are some of Trump's biggest applause lines from a speech in Reno, Nevada, on Sunday, many of which have been an integral part of his appeals to voters throughout his campaign.

In his 2024 bid, Trump is building on two security-related messages from his previous campaigns, when he stoked fears about urban crime in Democratic-run cities and took a hardline stance on immigration, in part by the use of anti-immigration measures. immigrant rhetoric to paint immigrants as criminals.

Since leaving the White House, Trump has consistently attacked President Biden's record on immigration, criticizing him for doing little to deter the record number of migrants crossing the border. This proposal is one of several in which Trump promises to restore and strengthen his previous immigration policies, which were enormously popular among his supporters. Biden has recently expressed his willingness to enact new restrictions on migration.

Behind this line is Trump's oft-repeated notion that Biden is a weak leader who has made America's adversaries view the country as vulnerable. With statements like these, Trump suggests that he projects such an image of strength that his election alone – which he presents as inevitable – will deter immigrants from illegally crossing the border.

Trump presents a dark, often dystopian vision of a crime-ravaged America, building on his 2020 message that the country's cities were declining. He is again trying to present himself as a “law and order” candidate, vaguely alluding to crime in Democratic-run cities, which he blames on progressive politicians, activists and policies. (Trump sometimes exaggerates crime statistics to make his point.)

Concerns about pocketbooks are central to Trump's campaign this year. He recently began using the slogan “Better under Trump,” telling voters that the economy was better when he was president.

“Drill, baby, drill,” a mantra during the 2008 presidential campaign, has become a rallying cry for Trump, who insists the United States must rely less on oil and gas imports. He presents increased domestic production of fossil fuels as a solution to rising energy prices, which he blames primarily for inflation in the United States. And he criticizes environmental restrictions imposed by the Biden administration that limit oil and gas extraction.

Trump draws big approvals when he talks about rolling back the Biden administration's efforts to encourage Americans to transition to electric vehicles. (The administration does not have a federal mandate for electric vehicles, as Trump often claims.)

He often tailors his criticism to his audience. In Nevada, he suggested the initiative would hurt auto union workers, a criticism he has made in other speeches. But when he was in Iowa, Trump considered electric vehicles a threat to ethanol, a fuel made from corn and other crops that is an important factor in the state's economy.

Often toward the end of his speech, Trump addresses a number of divisive social issues that have become rallying cries for the Republican Party.

These votes, which encapsulate a number of issues that inflame Trump's conservative base, consistently provoke some of the loudest responses at his events. His views largely align with those of his rivals for the nomination in 2024. Republicans hoped these “parental rights” issues could help them win over suburban voters in particular.

Trump often downplayed the effectiveness of masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Although his vaccine development program, Operation Warp Speed, spurred progress, vaccines are deeply unpopular among his Republican base, and he has criticized their demand as an affront to personal freedom.

This line effectively cements the belief of many conservatives that gender is fixed at birth and based on biological sex. After saying it, Trump will often marvel that politicians even have to talk about it, a way for him to ridicule LGBT rights activists. The ruling has been criticized as offensive by LGBT rights activists for misinterpreting transgender athletes.

Behind Trump's campaign speeches are two key grievances: his false claim that Democrats stole the 2020 election from him and his position that all four allegations against him are politically motivated. He builds on both by condemning his opponents and suggesting that he would take revenge if he were elected.

Trump faces a total of 91 felony charges in four criminal cases. He spends considerable time in the speech accusing Biden of masterminding the four. With this line, Trump positions himself as a kind of Christian political martyr: a victim of corrupt political enemies who is absorbing the blows from him to save his conservative supporters.

Trump constantly presents himself as the last bulwark defending American democracy from an attack by forces, including the political left. With this sentence he turns his judicial problems into a collective problem. He often adds: “In the end, they are not after me, but you. Turns out I’m getting in the way.”

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