the national interest

Trump Calls Democrats ‘Treasonous’ for Failing to Applaud Him

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

One of the things that has made the Donald Trump political experience so peculiar is that he combines the instincts of an authoritarian with the mannerisms of an insult comic. Neither of these traits is a familiar element of electoral politics in the United States (certainly not at the presidential level). And as strange as they are individually, they are even more bizarre in combination.

In a speech today touting his tax cuts, Trump launched into a long riff expressing his dismay that Democrats failed to applaud his State of the Union address. Apparently Trump expected them to join in giving him credit for the low African-American and Latino unemployment rates. (They did not, because Trump is disingenuously taking credit for results of a trend that predates his presidency, and which he blatantly lied about for years beforehand.) So Trump casually declared that Democrats were treasonous. Yes, he used that word:

It is totally beyond the pale for a president to describe the opposing party as having committed treason for failing to applaud his speech. It is the logic and rhetoric of authoritarianism in its purest form. But if Trump does it in the middle of a Don Rickles–style riff, does that make it better? Worse? Just weirder?

Trump: Democrats Are ‘Treasonous’ for Failing to Applaud Him