Thomas looked to challenge entrenched power structures with an eye to prosperity for future generations. This stands in contrast to the performative toughness of Trump, whose message and work have been to entrench existing power structures and to resist change.
Last week the president—who was elected on the promise that he had a “really fantastic” plan to “immediately repeal and replace Obamacare”—watched as his fourth attempt at health-care reform was rendered catatonic, universally condemned by every major physician and nursing organization, hospitals, insurance companies, and at least two Republican senators.
That night at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump spoke of apparently unrelated things:
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, “That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.” ... When the NFL ratings are down massively, massively. The NFL ratings are down massively ... Because you know today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple minutes. Two guys, just really beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.
Note that Trump here implies that the referee is calling penalties in order to impress his wife. She is proud of him. She has perpetrated her successful feminine sabotage.
It’s possible to overanalyze these sentence fragments. The jumping from one topic to the next without completing a thought makes it so Trump rarely says enough to escape plausible deniability. This manner of speaking has been noted in objective linguistic analysis to be consistent with the sort seen in early stages of cognitive decline. Though at least some of the pacing here was the result of interruption from wild applause from a crowd that would not likely have reacted with such approval to a man apologizing for the stagnant health-policy situation.
Instead he drew cheers for projecting toughness and bravado—for saying his catchphrase, “You’re fired!” The crowd responded well to the shared sense of superiority over the more familiar other: black NFL players who protest the power structure. The crowd cheered for the days when men were men and they hit each other hard—when there was no discourse on the harm that could be done from head injuries, just as there was no concern for “safe spaces” for trauma victims or “political correctness” to call attention to divisive rhetoric. This was the time when America was apparently great.