[Cleveland journalist Laurie Penny captured this photo of Monday’s Women for Trump event. She wrote, “The people in this picture are journalists and one media intern.”]
The grim 2016 GOP convention created by a reality show host is gone, and the Democrats have settled into Philadelphia for the upcoming week. There’s still time, however, for a post mortem of the days marked by a dystopian vision of gloom and doom. The RNC had to close its online chat due to rampant anti-Semitism although speakers freely used slurs against people of color. (Of 2,472 delegates, only 18 were black and 133, Latino.)
The RNC, following Trump’s policy of banning unfriendly media sources, blocked Open Secrets, a non-profit outlet that scrutinizes lobbyists, federal agencies, politicians of all stripes and more, from the convention for the first time in 20 years. The convention center was also closed to guns despite the GOP mantra about the importance of carrying guns everywhere.
As theatre critic Peter Marks pointed out in the Washington Post, the four days were filled with subplots like “the blood feud between Donald Trump and his Uriah Heep-like archrival, Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)” and Ben Carson “go[ing] all Exorcist.” The star of the convention was actually on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as Broadway actress Laura Benanti wore a knockoff of Melania Trump’s $2,200 Roksanda dress and satirized the plagiarized speech that Melania Trump copied from First Lady Michelle Obama.
Many leading GOP politicians were missing from the convention. Sarah Palin stayed in Alaska, perhaps because her son, Track, had gone to jail after he punched his girlfriend in the face, threatened to fire the gun he held to her face, kicked her in the knees, and tried to keep her from calling 911. Trump was so short on speakers that his children were paraded on the stage each evening, and he drew on has-been celebrities such as Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr., who declared that President Obama is a Muslim. In Trump’s desire to be “amazing,” he lurched out onto the stage through the fog on the first night, his silhouette resembling a Frankenstein monster. Some people looked back wistfully at Clint Eastwood and his empty chair.
In his benediction, Mark Burns, a South Carolina pastor, told delegates that “our enemy is not other Republicans, but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.” In the same time, he said that God is “guiding [Trump], that you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country.” Ivanka Trump’s rabbi was smart to back out of the job.
These are some of the “high” points:
Day 1: Make America Safe Again concentrated on hating Hillary and anyone except white people. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told reporters that non-white people haven’t done anything productive for humanity and doubled-down on his bigotry throughout the convention. Rudy Giuliani kicked off the hate fest against Clinton, screaming so much that he looked like he needed an ambulance after he got off the stage. Wannabe VP pick Michael Flynn encouraged the incessant cries of “lock her up” that continued throughout the convention.
All the speakers wanted revenge for four deaths at Benghazi and the use of emails on a private server. The media generally ignored the #NeverTrump delegates from Colorado who walked off the floor after delegates from nine states weren’t given a vote for unbinding delegates, but Trump wasn’t as lucky with the overwhelming media coverage about the plagiarism in his wife’s lovely speech.
Day 2: Make America Work Again morphed into “Make America Hate Hillary Again.” The unemployment rate was halved from 10 percent to five percent in seven years of President Obama’s administration, so Chris Christie avoided jobs and ginned up the crowd with a mix of the Spanish Inquisition and a Nazi rally in the Germany of 1930s as the mob in the convention center constantly cried “guilty.” Christie’s Kangaroo Court audition to become attorney general matches Trump’s love for authoritarian regimes.
The founder of a small New York City waterproofing company was the chief CEO speaker, and other speakers praised Trump’s participation in wineries and kickboxing. John Trump, Jr.’s speech writer cribbed from his own book and a column in the American Conservative as he bashed teachers and environmental regulations. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to avoid praising Trump and his positions while appear supportive of electing the man who he calls “not my kind of conservative.”
Delegates revolted on the second day because the GOP changed their votes in some states to Trump for the nomination instead of the majority candidates in the primaries. These delegates had supported the binding rules because they believed they were “bound” to the voter’s decision. Since then, some of the delegates ignored by the GOP have resigned from the party and announced their support for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Trump was nominated by only 69.8 percent, the lowest percentage since the 1976 contested convention. Much to the dismay of germophobe Trump, at least 11 California delegates came down with norovirus on the second day, requiring that delegates not shake hands or share food.
New Hampshire delegate and advisor to Trump’s campaign about veterans’ issues, Al Baldasaro, said that Clinton should be “put in the firing line and shot for treason” and referred to her as “a piece of garbage.” The Secret Service took notice the First Amendment does not allow encouraging violence against U.S. political leaders. Standing his ground, Baldasaro called a second time for Clinton’s execution by firing squad on a white nationalist radio show broadcast from inside the GOP convention.
Day 3: Supposed to be Make America First Again, the convention let Ted Cruz took the floor to explain how to do this: vote your conviction in November. The finale of his speech about freedom didn’t make him popular when he said, “Vote your conscience”—a cry from the #NeverTrump delegation. Newt Gingrich’s history lesson about the Republican party fighting racism in the 19th century couldn’t cover the GOP’s vigorous curtailment of civil rights during the past few decades.
In his acceptance speech for VP candidate, Mike Pence bragged about Indiana’s economy. A few facts: The dropping unemployment rate in the state started before he became governor, thanks to President Obama, and continued to follow the national average. Yet a larger percentage of the state’s residents were employed in 2000 than in 2016. Eighteen states added more jobs than Indiana during Pence’s time in office there, and the job situation would look worse if the increase—not decrease, as Pence claims—of public sector jobs had not occurred. While the country saw a decline of people not affording enough food, Indiana saw an increase while Pence cut off food stamps to many of these people. Pence supports killing more U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, slashing Social Security and Medicare, and far more.
Day 4: Make America One Again featured Trump’s 76-minute lie-filled speech after Reince Priebus extolled the virtues of GM president William Knudson. The speaker ignored Knudsen’s support of the Nazis when General Motors was manufacturing cars and trucks in Germany for the Wehrmacht. Knudson called the Third Reich “the miracle of the 20th century” and only became disillusioned when Adolf Hitler took over the GM factory in 1940. The convention finished with a feeling of depression as people walked out to the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The 2016 GOP convention was marked by missing Republican leaders, divisive screaming matches, avoidance of Trump’s abilities, plagiarism, concerns about Satan, illegal calls for a U.S. political leader to be jailed or shot by a firing squad, and more distractions. The four days were also marked by an unbelievable number of lies and no defense of Trump except he isn’t Hillary Clinton. As Eric Alterman wrote on Moyers & Company, the Republican id—the lizard brain of “instinctual, repressed, or antisocial desires”—was on full display at the convention.
A bizarre story surrounding the convention, ignored by mainstream media, is Trump Jr.’s failed attempt to woo Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the vice-presidential slot with the promise that Kasich would be in charge of both domestic and foreign policy. When asked what Donald Trump planned to do as president, the answer was “make America great again.” Trump has also said that he might resign after he got elected. People who think they are voting for Trump for president should consider that his election can easily lead to Mike Pence as president. All Trump’s promises about creating jobs and keeping the U.S. out of the Middle East are nothing but a sham because Pence is just George W. Bush on steroids.
David Corn wrote:
“The language of Trumpism is paranoia. He seeks to take advantage of resentments and anger. He encourages hatred and division. He has normalized crude discourse, thuggery, misogyny, and bigotry. He wants Americans to feel threatened and afraid. His business plan relies on pessimism. And many party leaders—including some who loudly denounced him during the primary campaign—have joined the ride. Moreover, he has laid down a dangerous marker: If Clinton wins, that’s proof that the system is rotten. So then what? She will be an illegitimate leader who must be opposed and removed?
“The GOP convention has been a weeklong parade of fear and loathing. And whiffs of violence have been in the air. (‘The answer to 1984 is 1776,’ Jones shouted at a rally.) This official embrace of suspicion and distrust is unprecedented—and dangerous. ‘I am your voice,’ Trump thundered during his dour acceptance speech. The GOP delegates cheered in response. Trump was right. With the support of millions of Republican voters and the acquiescence of GOP elites, he has given voice to darker impulses and has altered the American political landscape. It is his most consequential construction project yet.”