But in 2020, the message is that the threat to America comes from within. Phrased in a slightly gentle way, it’s the threat of Americans no longer believing in themselves, or their country. Trump opened his speech promising that his party would be welcoming anyone who believes in “the greatness of America and the righteous heart of the American people.”

That was also the message in Nikki Haley’s speech, when she said America is not a racist country. It was the message of Tim Scott’s speech, and Madison Cawthorn’s: This is a good country that deserves your allegiance and support. We should be proud of our history. It was the message of Cuban refugee Maximo Alvarez. It was the message behind the anti-cancel-culture sections including the short speech by Nick Sandmann. Believing the worst about Americans leads to disaster, division, and injustice.

This message fits with a certain kind of omnipresent spiritual culture in the suburbs, in which people seek wellness through affirmation, and try to silence the hyper-critical thoughts that keep them from achieving the goals or realizing the kind of life they deserve. It also motivates conservatives who feel misunderstood as “wicked” by people who may be blind to the virtues of conservatism.