Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president of the United States by declaring that "America doesn't win anymore," and that he'll "Make America Great Again." But after watching the United States' performance at the Olympics in Rio, my message to Mr. Trump is simple: America is already great.
After two weeks of nonstop competition amongst eleven thousand athletes from around the world, the United States took home the gold in the Olympic medal count. One hundred and twenty-one total medals for Team USA. China, a country Mr. Trump claims is always beating the U.S., had a total of 70 Olympic medals. Team USA also beat China on the gold medal count, 46-26.
So with all this campaign rhetoric about how Mr. Trump will make America start winning again, where were those stubby little Twitter fingers during Team USA's two-week domination at the Olympics? Where were the late night tweets about beating China, or the congratulatory messages for Team USA?
Trump is clearly obsessed with winning. In fact, under a President Trump, we'll be winning so much that we'll get tired of it, he says. But when it came to Team USA doing all the winning in Rio — Trump was nowhere to be seen, or heard. A rarity for sure.
Trump has built his entire political brand on the idea that America isn't winning anymore. We're losers and we lose at everything. We lose to China on trade deals. Our political leaders are losers who aren't smart enough to make deals with other countries. We're not safe, nor are we great. We just don't win anymore.
This ideology is dangerous, deranged and demoralizing. And any candidate or future candidate who thinks this is a winning message — think again — you'll lose. And to the current candidates down ballot — I'm sorry. The traditional campaign playbook needs to be thrown out the window this election cycle. If you're going to survive this year, you're going to need to play by a whole new set of rules to rise above the divisiveness and win. America is already great, but together, we'll make it even greater.
The damage caused by Trump's rhetoric will take a Herculean effort to repair. It's like America is in an emotionally abusive relationship, with Mr. Trump as the abuser. We've heard the message a thousand times. We can't win and we're losers. But thanks to Team USA and our gold medal performance in Rio, we're reminded that we're anything but.
Not much can silence the almighty winner Trump — except when it's America that's doing all the winning.
Mark Vargas, a Judson College graduate, is a former GOP U.S. congressional candidate in Illinois and has advised world leaders, government officials and candidates on political messaging, issue advocacy and electoral campaign strategies. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkAVargas.