Trump wants to celebrate, like 1776!
As the field of Republican primary candidates fills up, Mr. Trump is looking for strategies to play up and secure his position as the front-runner. He unveiled his most recent Big Idea last week in a video shared on Truth Social: a year-long, multi-state celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
The former president wants to host a “most spectacular” event in keeping with his more-is-more philosophy to “give America’s founding in 1776 the incredible anniversary it truly deserves.” The events would take place between Memorial Day 2025 and July 4, 2026, and they would feature a variety of patriotic treats, such as bringing together high school athletes from all over the country for the Patriot Games and reviving ideas for a statue park honoring “the greatest Americans of all time.”
Even more ambitious, Mr. Trump would appoint a yearlong Great American State Fair with pavilions honoring each of the 50 states, ideally at “the legendary Iowa state fairgrounds,” to which he would invite “millions and millions of visitors from around the world.”
He stated, “We will build it, and they will come.”
Voters, please give me four more years so we can enjoy ourselves and make a tonne of money from foreigners!
Contextual advice for Iowa voters: What do you call a blatant screw-up, then?
Bravo to whoever in Trump world concocted this priceless jewel. Can anyone really picture Ron DeSantis proposing such a wild rumpus, after all? Nicolle Haley? Pence Mike? Does that guy even have permission to attend parties? Please. If their poll numbers depended on it, these dull losers wouldn’t know how to throw a birthday party.
But in all seriousness, Mr. Trump’s proposed Salute to America 250, as he intends to call the associated task force, is exquisitely on brand: a seductive fusion of nostalgia, spectacle, and performative patriotism — with plenty of sharp edges, of course. Even as he promotes the project as a chance for national improvement, Mr. Trump has incorporated themes and language that seem to be intended to sow discord. The strategy is no less about the vibe politics at the core of his cultlike appeal, even if it is less doomsday than his “American carnage” spiel. It also reveals a lot about how his campaign is developing this time around.
That something as potentially unifying as a national birthday celebration carries with it divisive cultural baggage is a sad commentary on our political climate. However, here we are. The year 1776 is significant in American history, yes. But in the Trump era, it also evolved into a symbol for one’s adherence to traditional values and opposition to anything that conservatives consider woke.
Mr. Trump established the 1776 Commission just before the 2020 election to advance “patriotic education.” This action was in response to The Times’s 1619 Project, which critically examined the nation’s history through the lenses of slavery and systemic racism. In his pitch to the commission, Mr. Trump argued that it would help “patriotic moms and dads” fight back against this “child abuse” by exposing the “twisted web of lies” radicals teaching children in schools.
Similarly, depending on the situation, a high school sporting event might be a lovely way to honor a diverse group of young people in America. But right-wingers’ outrage over trans athletes and culture warriors’ obsession with traditional manhood and strength make Mr. Trump’s vision for the Hunger/Patriot Games seem a little uncertain right now. The MAGA king separates boys from girls, winners from losers, and generally makes judgments about what constitutes valor and vigor, giving the whole thing a retro, survival-of-the-fittest, vaguely gladiatorial feel.
The National Garden of American Heroes, which Mr. Trump is working to revive, is another initiative. (He signed an executive order for a statuary park in 2020 with the express purpose of countering “dangerous anti-American extremism” that aims to “dismantle our country’s history, institutions, and very identity,” but President Biden revoked it.) When you consider the bloody fights that would unavoidably follow over which Americans deserved to be included, which should be excluded, and who exactly would make those decisions, such a monument initially seems harmless, if absurdly overbroad.
Any 1776 commemoration seems destined to devolve into a culture war cage match with Mr. Trump as the leader. Consider Thunderdome, but less polite.
Regardless of the specifics, Mr. Trump will need to use this proposal as a distraction during this election because of his shaky track record of tangible accomplishments. Mr. Trump was a political unknown during his stunning 2016 campaign, but he made a lot of audacious policy promises. He promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, turn America back into a manufacturing powerhouse, clear the swamp, control the debt, and construct a wall. He vowed that there would be so many victories that the electorate would grow tired of them.
Well, that’s all I got.
Future MAGA supporters might not care a fig about all the policy victories Mr. Trump missed out on while in office, much less all the toxic insanity he over-delivered. However, a large number of independents, swing voters, and even reasonable Republicans do. And Mr. Trump’s main rivals are actively attempting to reduce his support from non-cultists, in part by bringing up these failures.
We can only hope that someone manages to stop the ex-president’s extravagant party planning in some way. By this point, it should be abundantly clear that no celebration will ever be worthwhile due to Mr. Trump’s involvement.