Whenever I hear Trump’s deranged and delusional ranting, my mind turns to his audience. Why do they find it appealing? Why do they trust him when he lies so flagrantly and flamboyantly? What is he really selling? And what do they think they’re buying? The answer is that Trump is offering them a story of injustice and promised retribution. He’s done that from the beginning, affixing blame to a series of powerful people and institutions that have supposedly ruined the lives of ordinary Americans: the Republican establishment, Democrats, the media, rapacious companies that have outsourced manufacturing jobs, China, Iran, and specific, corrupt evildoers like Crooked Hillary and Sleepy Joe. They are the perps. The cheering throngs at the Trump rally are the victims. And Trump is the champion and defender of the latter — the man who, with his words of anger and grievance, permits them the possibility of vicarious vengeance.
But now, in the story he’s spinning every day, Trump is a victim, too. The man who put aside his comfortable life of wealth and private enterprise to become a tribune to the common man has been terribly wronged himself. His enemies deployed all their powers against him and the result was a stolen presidency — stolen from him as well as the tens of millions who voted for him.
In some ways, that could make the post-election Trump more powerful as a demagogue than he’s ever been.