Did the Politics of Division Work? Yes and No

OPINION — Donald Trump is a celebrity president, more interested in declaring a “great victory” after the 2018 midterms than in vowing to bring the country together. As he sparred with the media Wednesday and bragged about outdoing Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and famous folks who stumped for the other side, he did his best Rodney Dangerfield routine, playing the aggrieved president who has all the power but gets no respect.

When asked about the violent episodes that shook America in the weeks before Nov. 6 and whether he should soften his tone, he boasted about the economy, said he was “sad” to see the violence, and then talked about his great relationship with Israel.

The president did say he doesn’t much like the dangerous and deadly white supremacist movement law enforcement admits it is unprepared for, though he revealed no plans to combat that particular problem, one that worries many Americans, especially those in its crosshairs.

Are Trump and his party concerned about those Americans? Well, on Wednesday he called himself a “great moral leader,” and then responded to a question about his self-identification as a “nationalist” by saying it was racist.

Was anyone surprised?

This has always been the president, the one everyone knew would spin the GOP loss of the House as a win, with a promise to maybe cooperate with Democrats clouded by a threat to hit back if he feels singed by their investigations.

With a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, Tuesday’s verdict was decidedly mixed. And it was troubling if you had any worry of a divided America increasingly dug into blue and red camps, with urban and suburban areas trending Democratic and more rural areas trending Republican.

Though the history of this country has always been one of progress and pushback, some of the ads and tactics in the days leading up to this election threatened to push America back a century or two.

And that doesn’t seem to be a concern for the country’s leader, as he lists off the Republicans who won and the Democrats they defeated, or as he gloats over the Republicans who resisted his embrace and lost. (Maybe I gloated too — over Kris Kobach, the living embodiment of the phony voter fraud claims for which Trump is famous. He lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in his bid to be Kansas governor.)

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Identity politics? The term has been used to describe the Democrats’ big tent, which seeks the support of women, minorities and members of the LGBT community, as well as white men, who represented the top spot of every Democratic presidential ticket until Barack Obama came along (though you wouldn’t know it from the backlash). The politics of inclusion excludes only if one considers equal rights to be a zero sum game.

Instead, “identity politics” could be the slogan…

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