Trump and other practitioners may reap short-term gains, but history suggests they will provoke a fearsome backlash.
Anger has a peculiar power in democracies. Skillfully deployed before the right audience, it cuts straight to the heart of popular politics. It is attention-getting, drowning out the buzz of news cycles. It is inherently personal and thereby hard to refute with arguments of principle; it makes the political personal and the personal political. It feeds on raw emotions with a primal power: fear, pride, hate, humiliation. And it is contagious, investing the like-minded with a sense of holy cause.
In recent weeks, it has grown increasingly ubiquitous in American politics. In Montana this past Thursday, President Donald Trump praised Republican Representative Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assaulting the Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, saying, “Any guy who can do a body slam … he’s my guy.”