Democrats should run on the issue of patriotism in 2020, a former George W. Bush speechwriter wrote in The Washington Post on Thursday.
Michael Gerson had harsh words for President Donald Trump.
“My personal recommendation: Relentlessly turning the president’s claim of authenticity against him, until his defining public attributes become national jokes. Every part of Trump’s appeal is fraudulent. His lies are not the filigree; they are the foundation,” he wrote.
“The man who promised to drain the swamp imported alligators such as Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen,” he noted. “The man who claimed he would bring business skills to the White House has cultivated a cloud of squabbling chaos around him. His management style — rewarding toadies and punishing honest disagreement — would push the average lemonade stand into early bankruptcy.”
In Gerson’s mind, patriotism could be a top issue as Trump seeks re-election.
“And, most disturbingly, the president’s defiant nationalism is strangely lacking in basic patriotism. He is quick to question others’ loyalty — ‘Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country’ — but remarkably slow to demonstrate loyalty of his own,” Gerson wrote.
“Trump supporters must believe that deep down he is a true patriot. But the public evidence for this is scarce,” he noted. “It was certainly not evident during his nonexistent military career. It could not be proved by his casual slanders against the country. When told that, “[Vladimir] Putin’s a killer,” Trump responded: ‘There are a lot of killers. . . . You think our country’s so innocent?’ When asked about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on dissent, Trump answered: ‘When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.'”
“I never imagined that the party of Ronald Reagan would cede the ground of patriotism. But in the Trump era, Democrats have a chance to seize it,” he added.
Read the full column.