“I Am the Only One”: Trump’s Messianic 2024 Message

Susan Glasser in The New Yorker:

The Republican political consultant Richard Berman is something of a legend, often credited with taking the art of negative campaigning on behalf of undisclosed corporate clients to the next level. When “60 Minutes” did a profile of him, in 2007, he was portrayed as the “Dr. Evil” of the Washington influence game. More than a decade later, when I visited his office in downtown D.C., he still had a tongue-in-cheek “Dr. Evil” nameplate on his desk. (“If they call you Mr. Nice Guy, would that be better?” he asked me. “I don’t think so.”) Berman devised an acronym to capture his firm’s aggressive approach to politics: flags—fear, love, anger, greed, and sympathy. Of those, he believed, anger and fear were undoubtedly the most effective.

I’ve often thought of Berman’s formula while watching the descending spiral of American politics in the past few years. It’s not all that complicated, unfortunately: fear and anger, peddled by a skilled demagogue like Donald Trump, have captivated a large segment of the Republican electorate. Other politicians, recognizing Trump’s appeal, also increasingly eschew love, sympathy, and even greed in favor of this simpler and more straightforward approach.

More here.