An even larger problem is that so many Americans — women, minorities, millennials — think the president actually hates them. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both tried to unite the country but failed. In the end, too many Americans didn’t see themselves in one or the other president’s vision for the country. Pace Obama’s 2004 Democratic convention speech, it turned out there was a liberal America and a conservative America. Not even presidents who saw themselves as uniters, not dividers, could put it back together.
Trump, however, has never even tried to be a uniter. His main political impulses are that his base rules and in times of controversy the best defense is a good offense. His first foray into national politics was to help lead the birther movement.
Unity is important for a political movement that seeks to be grounded in a pan-ethnic American nationalism. Trump, or people around him, do seem to understand this on some level. That’s why the president proclaimed, “It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”