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As the first president with a professional branding background, Donald Trump cares a bit too much about slogans. The president also seems to realize that effective marketing can’t be stale, which is probably why he unveiled a couple of new slogans during his first campaign rally of 2019.
There were, however, a couple of problems with the Republican’s selections. For example, the first seemed awfully familiar.
A line from President Donald Trump’s speech on border security on Monday was quickly turned into a graphic by the Republican Party. “We’re only getting stronger together,” Trump said at an event in El Paso.
Whether this was planned or put together on the fly is unclear, but the Republican National Committee began promoting the phrase via social media during the event, as if it were an important theme for the White House and its party.
The trouble, of course, is that “Stronger Together” was Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan. It was the name of her book; it was a phrase she incorporated into public appearances; it was the phrase that appeared on her campaign podiums. And now, evidently, it’s been appropriated by her former rival, who remains preoccupied with the former Democratic candidate, and who’s always shown great interest in pitting people against one another, not bringing people together.
The RNC made no real effort to hide the adoption, with a party spokesperson telling The Hill, “When you lose your campaign, you lose your monopoly on any slogans.”
At the same rally in west Texas, the president spoke in front of two large banners that read, “Finish The Wall.” It was against this backdrop that Trump began his remarks by bragging, “I don’t know if you heard, right. Today we started a big beautiful wall right on the Rio Grande. Right smack on the Rio Grande.”
Soon after, when the crowd broke chanted, “Build that wall,” the president corrected them. “You really mean ‘finish that wall,’” Trump said, “because we’ve built a lot of it already.”
It’s as elaborate an exercise in national gaslighting as anything Americans have ever seen.
Before Trump took office, there were 654 miles of barriers – of one form or another – along the U.S./Mexico border. As the New York Times recently documented, there are still 654 miles of barriers along that same border. This administration has repaired and replaced some old barriers, but it hasn’t expanded what previously existed.
But since the truth doesn’t do the president any favors, Trump has decided to play make-believe, in the hopes that his followers will prefer his version of reality.
For some, that may work, but it won’t make presidential lies true.