Are you cowering in your homes yet, clutching your framed copies of the Second Amendment, AR-15s and open-and/or-concealed-carry guns yet? If you watched Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention – and you believed any of it – you should be.
For Trump, who spent decades living a much-publicized life of showy hedonistic excess at his signature skyscraper in the uber-weathy blocks of midtown Manhattan described a life for us ordinary folk that verges on the apocalyptic. And it’s all Barack and Hillary’s fault.
We the people are beset by criminals – those “illegal immigrants” who have spread crime over the land, and those “you-know-who” of the nation’s big-city ghettos. And it’s all Barack and Hillary’s fault.
We the people who don’t have jets and helicopters with our names painted on them in big, big letters are forced to drive on crumbling roads and bridges. And it’s all Barack and Hillary’s fault.
We the people have to suffer the humiliation of not being able to just order the rest of the world to do what we want, and be quiet while they do it. And it’s all Barack and Hillary’s fault.
I could go on, as Trump did ad nauseam, but you get the picture. Donald Trump’s acceptance speech embodied what his campaign was built on from the day he announced it last year with a slur against Mexicans and Latino peoples: fear-mongering, a complete disregard for truth, and an overweening narcissism.
And, as usual, for all his slippery assertions of the U.S. having gone wrong – and it’s all Barack and Hillary’s fault – he offered no substantive proposals for change beyond his usual I’ll-fix-it-and-I’ll-be-great bluster.
In that regard, Trump’s speech, following daughter Ivanka’s world-of-fantasy tribute to him, was the appropriate conclusion to a four-day spectacle that can best be described as a gift that will keep on giving: most immediately, to the Clinton campaign; and to political satirists and professional and amateur comedians; and finally, to scholars and authors who will be mining its bizarre doings for material for decades.
One moment there was former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose appointee as city police commissioner was later indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison on corruption charges, shouting to the world how much he loves the police. The next, there was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Trump’s chief gofer, staging a mock trial of Hillary Clinton with the convention’s bloc of delegates as the “jury.” Their lynch-mob-like behavior provided irrefutable proof that “Clinton Derangement Syndrome” is every bit as virulent as the “Obama Derangement Syndrome” they’ve fed on these past eight years.
One could continue on through the convention’s reality-show lineup of D-minus-list celebrities spewing bizarre conspiracy theories and oily tributes to Trump; GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pretending they’re still the party’s actual leaders; and that unholy group no Republican National Convention has been without for 40 years – the blackface-minstrel Blacks, whose role is to delight the virtually all-White GOP conventioneers by denouncing all those Black Americans not in the convention hall.
For rib-splitting hilarity, of course, Melania Trump’s opening-night speech will always occupy a special niche in American history. Who would have guessed First Lady Michelle Obama has always had a secret admirer of the content of her character at the very heart of the Trump campaign?
And we all owe a debt of gratitude to Texas Senator Ted Cruz for his signaling via a stunning backstabbing speech that he’s now – and that means right now – running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. That’s also the plan of several of the other GOP politicos who showed up to speak (and some who didn’t). They were just far more circumspect about it.
Because those audacious hopes depend on Trump’s losing this year’s general election, Cruz’s blunt rebellion underscores the existence two major dynamics. One is that significant factions within the GOP still want a Trump defeat. The second is that the conservative movement’s intra-party and multi-faction war will continue at least until the 2020 election.
There’s one more reason the Trump acceptance speech was the perfect capstone to the GOP convention.
In 2008, in an amoral effort to derail Barack Obama’s candidacy, the Republican Party nominated Sarah Palin, the most unqualified vice presidential candidate in American history. That act signaled that the integrity of the Republican Party had all but disappeared. Last week, after eight years of futilely trying to wreck the Obama administration by any means necessary, the GOP nominated the most unqualified presidential candidate in American history.
Who says progress is inevitable?
Lee A. Daniels, a former reporter for The Washington Post and the New York Times, is also a former editor of The National Urban League’s The State of Black America. He is a keynote speaker and author whose books include Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He is writing a book on the Obama years and the 2016 election. He can be reached at email@example.com
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