It is of course no surprise that President Donald Trump’s suggestion of a military parade in our nation’s capital won quick and widespread condemnation from his many critics within the nation’s capital. And at first blush, the idea of a Soviet-style military procession down Pennsylvania Avenue plays into an unhelpful narrative for the president. This is a man after all who is routinely accused of trying to recreate his own gilded banana republic right here at home.
But as his ideas go, and admittedly he’s had some doozies, this actually may be one of Trump’s canniest.
As with many of his Republican predecessors, Trump has effectively tapped into the sense among millions of Americans that pride in the United States is diminishing, not only abroad but at home. Many of his supporters share a sentiment that D.C., N.Y. and L.A. “elites” are embarrassed about our country and our achievements. This is why, as a candidate for the White House, Trump frequently lambasted President Barack Obama for his alleged global “apology tour.” It’s why he’s waded into the protection of confederate monuments and claimed that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln might be the next to go. This is why he literally embraced the American flag. It’s why he made such a big deal about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, so much so that he’s almost achieving the unthinkable—turning some red-blooded Republican men against football.