Technical note: why do Republicans talk that way?

Answer: because they talk Calvinist. Paranoia like theirs has been the language of American Protestantism since the days of the Pilgrims, and in the Presbyterian theologian Donald Trump it has found a poet for the twenty-first century. The video shock of his complexion combines with his pulpit-style sing-song audio to evoke a full spectral range of American culture. As of 2023, Trump is the lord of American language: a bard loved as perhaps no poet in English has been since Tennyson. He commands a tradition.

You can tell from the sample of print below, for instance, that the text being communicated through its words is old. But don’t the words themselves seem contemporary?

No doubt, but they date from 1704.  They were transcribed back then by Jonathan Swift, and the “he” on the page is Swift’s character Jack, who stands mostly for John Calvin. It is Calvin who lives on in this Irish page and thousands of subsequent pages by such American thinkers as Jonathan Edwards, Woodrow Wilson, and, yes, Donald Trump.

What — you thought the idea of a paranoid atavism was original with Trump? One thing poetry can teach you is that no stimulus to emotion is original. First comes an imageless desire and only then comes its realization in form. For any poet, realization — that is, making real — has always been the hard part. Trump’s achievement as a poet was to realize by transforming his uttering body into a bardic color: the color orange. Calvinists have always reveled in their pain, but Trump taught all America to revel orangely. After Trump, suffering was newly and lovably embodied in orange. Suddenly, at last! it seemed understandable. All you have to do is realize, murmured the TV while America was going to sleep, what color it is that irradiates when a lord of language rolls video and sing-songs, “Let there be light.”