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Donald Trump is having an identity crisis: Unifying America while Making it Great Again

Opinion
By Joshua Brisco
Nov 15, 2016

At least, he might as well have been.

“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans,” promised the glowing future leader of the free world, gloriously unaware of the irony that he was reciting from the teleprompter. 

“For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”

A truly heartwarming olive branch extended to his respected rivals, Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Little Marco, Low-Energy Jeb Bush, Goofy Elizabeth Warren and someone-please-make-sure-he’s-still-breathing Ben Carson. (The last one is made up. The rest are names that the current president-elect actually called his political opponents.)

Trump’s victory speech was baffling. On the biggest stage, Trump refused to play the hits. It was like Paul McCartney selling out a stadium and only playing music from his Wings years. Or Taylor Swift going through a concert exclusively made up of her early country ballads. Get up there, play “Hey Jude” and “Blank Space,” blame Muslims for something and let’s get on with the show!

Trump’s campaign was built on a refusal to cater to the outsiders. If someone from one of America's minorities showed up to hold a “Blacks for Trump” sign or wear a “Muslims for Trump” shirt, then they were welcomed aboard. But Trump never went to get them. They had to go to Trump. Now, Trump has ensured that he'll be double-crossing some portion of the country. Either he will have to betray his most loyal voter base as he strains to cultivate a more unified America, or he will stick to his campaign promises by building a wall on the Mexican border and banning Muslims from entering the U.S.

Trump’s identity crisis is serious. He still can't decide if he’s an outsider or not.

Donald Trump gives an immigration policy speech in Phoenix, Arizona on August 31, 2016. In his victory speech after being named president-elect of the United States, Trump delivered a message of unity for all Americans, contradicting his typical tone during his campaign. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.Donald Trump gives an immigration policy speech in Phoenix, Arizona on August 31, 2016. In his victory speech after being named president-elect of the United States, Trump delivered a message of unity for all Americans, contradicting his typical tone during his campaign. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.Donald Trump gives an immigration policy speech in Phoenix, Arizona on August 31, 2016. In his victory speech after being named president-elect of the United States, Trump delivered a message of unity for all Americans, contradicting his typical tone during his campaign. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, his first two major administrative hires were announced. Trump chose Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff. The Priebus hiring is good news for traditional conservatives who have been hoping that Trump would rebuild the previously-incinerated bridges between him and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Trump’s second hire was Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, as chief strategist of the Trump administration. The New York Times described Breitbart as “a site known for its nationalist, racially charged, conspiracy-laden coverage.” But if you’re still on the fence about Trump, don't worry - it'll probably be alwhite.

“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, we have to get together,” opined Trump, apparently unburdened by any memory of his campaign. “To all republicans and democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

Trump made his mark on the political world by being unafraid of divisiveness. He was unwilling to give in to the politically-correct millennial generation that gave out more participatory trophies than he gave out unwanted sexual advances. (Allegedly. ...And by his own admission.) Where is that boldness now?

Perhaps Trump is changing his tone because the weight of the office of the president is serious enough to make him less of a showman and more of a leader. Or perhaps he is simply trying to appeal to the largest audience, tailoring his tone to each crowd, hoping that they don’t catch on.

Or, the most concerning potential truth: maybe nobody knows what Donald Trump is, including Donald Trump. Maybe a president-elect with zero political experience isn’t used to being forced to have a coherent set of stances and to have a consistent tone.

Perhaps Trump’s identity crisis is exactly what America should have expected. 

Joshua Brisco

Editor-in-Chief - More by this author

Joshua Brisco ('17) is a multimedia major from Shawnee, Kansas. He has been a member of The Trailblazer as a reporter, sports editor, news editor, managing editor and Editor-in-Chief.

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