President Donald Trump
Credit: North Charleston/Flickr

I was somewhat surprised when, during her interview with Trump, Laura Ingraham asked, “What could you do to unite the country at a time of great polarization?” Throughout his presidency, Trump has demonstrated that his only concern is to ignite his base of supporters against those he defines as their enemies.

True to form, here is the president’s response.

So, I think success should unite the country but I will tell you the more successful we’ve come the more angry people like Nancy Pelosi, who don’t have what it takes, if they don’t know what’s going on they get angry.  They should – an example is Mexico, I said we’re going to put tariffs on because we want you to help us because they won’t pass any legislation in Congress and I have Senators and others and Pelosi coming out saying how horrible.  What they’re doing is they’re hurting a deal, they should be saying we’re with the President, we’ll do whatever he wants to do and Mexico would fold like an umbrella.  Now, I have these people and I’m saying there’s some republicans too, I think they should be ashamed of themselves but we have Pelosi, we have crying Chuck Schumer who’s a disaster by the way, he’s a total political, you know, jerk but we have Schumer, we have all these people, they come out and they  talk about tariffs so bad so they can killing– they hurt my negotiation…

The first thing to notice is that Trump turns Ingraham’s question about what he could do to unite the country into a response about how others should be uniting. Immediately the focus is taken off of him and put on to others. For this president, a sense of personal responsibility is positively toxic.

As is his standard fare, the president then goes on the attack with his bullying and name-calling. Pelosi doesn’t have what it takes, Congress doesn’t pass any legislation, and “cryin’ Chuck Schumer” is a total political jerk. In other words, Trump responds to a question about what he can do to unite the country by doing the same thing he’s been doing to divide us for over three years.

But the real clue about how this president thinks about unity is when he suggests that it means going along with whatever he wants to do. That is the loyalty test Trump imposes on everyone, which is what we learned from Michael Cohen’s testimony before congress.

First and foremost, everyone in Trump’s employ is expected to protect and defend him at all costs—including lying on his behalf, threatening people who could damage him, or keeping quiet about his abuses (i.e., NDA’s his employees are required to sign). As has become clear during his presidency, Donald Trump demands complete loyalty.

As soon as we recognize the price Trump demands for unity, it becomes obvious that the deep divide that exists in this country will persist as long as he is the standard-bearer of the Republican Party. By his own admission, the only way we can come together to accomplish anything is if we all agree to pass Trump’s loyalty test and go along with whatever he wants to do. Anyone who isn’t willing to toe that line will be attacked, demonized, and blamed for all of this president’s failures.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.