In this clip from The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell, the panel compares former President Jimmy Carter’s legacy of diplomatic humility to Donald Trump’s brand of abrasive narcissism and discuss how Carter’s loss in the 1980 election reflects a malicious “Trumpian” ideal of the “loser,” and how it is poisonous to our political culture.
“The Carter presidency is in America, we are, I think, as a culture, bought into a “Trumpian” concept of winners and losers and you are utterly worthless as soon as you lose an election in this country. Jimmy Carter has certainly suffered that kind of imagery since losing the presidential election” begins O’Donnell.
His co-host, Joy Reid agrees, and paints a very disturbing picture of American political identity: “Yeah, it does say something profound about who we are as a people that Carter’s decency and goodness was taken for weakness, and had to be remedied with the bluster of a Ronald Reagan and that the idea that we needed a cowboy to replace a man who wasn’t cowboy enough, who was too nice.”
She finishes by saying that “I think its a bit sad that we as a country that we take a cerebral man, a gentle man, a kind man, for a weak man, because that is not necessarily the case.”
When put in the context of a Donald Trump presidential campaign, it’s easy to see how the same process is playing out once again. The entire Republican field is basing their campaign strategy on a Reaganesque appeal to hyperaggression, by fear-mongering and creating an atmosphere of imminent disaster threatening America- be it from Iranians, or Planned Parenthood, or gay Americans, or illegal immigrants. The Republican base is clearly buying it at this point. It remains to be seen if such superficial demagoguery will have any lasting traction.
Watch it here:
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.