Aw, gee. The Trumpist Republicans have broken their promise. Who could have ever seen that coming?
They vowed to stage an upbeat, optimistic convention – to offer, in the words of chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, “an aspirational vision toward the next four years.”
But what we got instead on the first night was the apocalyptic message that Donald Trump is all that protects us from the radical left anarchist rioting Godless commie socialists who aim to torch the decadent cities and lay waste to the Caucasian McMansions of suburbia.
If nothing else, Trump’s crew knows how to stay on message no matter what.
The 2020 Republican National Convention opened with their post office lackey being grilled by a House committee, the news that their top evangelical fanboy (Jerry Falwell Jr.) watched his wife (a Women for Trump board member) have sex with the pool boy, and a recording of Trump’s own sister saying the president has “no principles.” Oh, and 27 ex-Republican lawmakers and 73 ex-Republican national security officials announced their endorsed Joe Biden.
It was downright Orwellian to hear them hail Trump as the sworn enemy of communists, given the fact that Trump has spent his tenure licking the shoes of a former KGB agent and writing love letters to the commie of North Korea. It was similarly weird to hear them hail Trump as the peerless savior who rescued us from the virus, given his track record of quackery and denial, and an ever-escalating death toll that has torn apart families and humiliated us worldwide.
But that’s what happens when a party stands for nothing except a cult of pathological personality.
The GOP, which once stood for small government and limited executive power, is now nothing more than a malleable instrument of der leader’s whim. Its apparatchiks decided – for the first time since the party’s founding in 1856 – not to draft a platform of party principles. You read that right, there is no platform.
Instead, they resolved to “continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”
In other words, “I’m with stupid.”
Even the conservative National Review was appalled, writing in an editorial that “the Republican Party should stand for something.”
Policywise, we did get a few Trumpist bullet points, but they read like they were scrawled on a napkin in a Vegas bar at three in the morning. “Protect our veterans,” “return to normal in 2021,” “provide school choice,” “teach American exceptionalism,” and my personal favorite, “cover all preexisting conditions.”
That one is odd, given the fact that Trump is currently in the courts trying to kill off Obamacare, which protects people’s preexisting conditions. And remember, a month ago, when he promised to unveil a health reform bill within two weeks? There’s nothing about that on the Vegas bar napkin.
This is not a party anymore. It is a cult hooked on power, determined to scare the bejesus out of people for the sole purpose of sustaining power. As veteran congressional Republican aide Brendan Buck told Politico journalist Tim Alberta, the Trump party’s ethos can be summed up thusly: “Owning the libs and pissing off the media. There’s really not much more to it.”
The big question is whether the cult’s paranoid doomsday message, amplified hourly by right-wing “media,” will resonate with enough voters to renew the freak show for another interminable season.
As Trump is fond of saying, “We’ll see what happens.”
Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears Email him at [email protected].