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Halfway through Sunday’s presidential debate in St. Louis, Donald Trump turned to his audience.
“We have a very divided nation,” he said. “We have a divided nation because people like her” — he pointed at Hillary Clinton for effect — “and believe me: She has tremendous hate in her heart.”
In this election, as in others past, calling the other candidate “divisive” is a go-to insult. George W. Bush famously described himself as “a uniter, not a divider” during his first presidential primary campaign. Mitt Romney condemned President Barack Obama in similar terms when he ran against him in 2012.
“Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” he said during a campaign stop in Ohio.
To be divisive, the logic goes, is to be incapable of getting Americans on the same page so you can lead them. It is an impediment to progress, which relies on the ideal that we remain — even against steep odds — “one nation … indivisible.”
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