Donald Trump thinks he’s the only thing standing between you and nuclear war

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On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump woke up and tapped out this tweet:

“Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”
There’s a tendency — amid all the wild claims and odd capitalization — to lose sight of what Trump is claiming in these tweets. In this one, he is literally saying that the United States would be in armed conflict with North Korea — a nuclear power — if he were not President.
Which is, um, a pretty big claim.
It’s in keeping with Trump’s broad view of his role on, well, everything. In situation after situation, Trump perceives himself as a great man of history, someone who bends the courses of countries to his will.
“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump proclaimed in his Republican National Convention speech. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
I. Alone. Can. Fix. It.

That is how Trump sees things. If he hadn’t come along, the United States as we know it (or, at least, as he knows it) would have ceased to exist.
He outlined that thinking in a speech in June 2016 — as he sought to nail down the Republican nomination. Here are a few of the key lines from that speech:
  • “The choice in this election is a choice between taking our government back from the special interests, or surrendering our last scrap of independence to their total and complete control. Those are the stakes.”
  • “When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports, or the factories moving overseas to Mexico, or to other countries, I know these problems can all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton — only by me.”
  • “My message is that things have to change — and this is our one chance do it. This is our last chance to do it.”
The message of the Trump campaign was simple: Things are going to hell. Elect me or they’ll get even worse, and we may never be able to fix them.
And, as president, he’s kept up that same sort of rhetoric — insisting that in the alternate universe in which Hillary Clinton became president, guns would be illegal, criminal gangs would be roaming American cities freely and, yes, we would be at war with North Korea.
In a speech in May to the National Rifle Association annual convention, Trump repeatedly painted a picture of America under threat from Democrats.
“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your President,” he said at one point. At another, he warned: “Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they’re releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets.”
At the root of this rhetoric is Trump’s fundamental appeal: He foments fear and casts the world as a very, very dangerous place — and then promises that, as long as people vote for him or support him, he will take care of everything.

There’s real power in that mix of fear and reassurance. Everyone wants to feel safe, to feel as though nothing will be able to hurt them. Especially when they are led to believe that danger and threat — hell, even war — is lurking around every corner.
The trick Trump has pulled — at least over some of the public — is to convince them that he alone is keeping evil at bay and, without him, the forces of chaos and destruction will be loosed: America without Trump would soon devolve into a hellscape of open borders, rampant unemployment and nuclear war.
Whether he really and truly believes that or simply understands the political power of that message is impossible to know. But the end result is the same regardless of Trump’s motivation: A populace — or a significant chunk of the populace — that believes that opposing Trump means supporting the end of America as we know it.

By: Chris Cillizza, CNN Politics

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