Tough to Trump: RNC Convention Astounds and Angers Many

To many Americans, politics and conventions are boring. After all, who wants to sit through hours of the same platitude-heavy aspirational speeches we’ve heard for decades?

Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Enter Donald Trump, a political interloper who cares more about popularity than policy. Rather than just speak on the final night as is tradition at these sorts of events, Trump made appearances throughout the convention, including introducing his wife Melania on the first night (who gave one of those aspirational speeches we’ve—literally—all heard before).  And while those first two days of the convention were, as AHA intern Amanda Scott noted, an “affront to humanist values,” things only got worse during the last two days of the event. The primary message of most speeches during the final two days of the convention was: be afraid, be very afraid. As Trump warned during his speech, “Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.” And Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who spectacularly refused to endorse the Republican nominee from the stage at the Republican convention, laid the fear on even thicker. In response to recent terrorist attacks, Cruz signaled that the end may be upon us, and asked aloud: “What if this right now is our last time? Our last moment to do something for our families, and our country?” Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper fear fest without the Falwell family. Jerry Falwell Jr., the scion of the racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, sexist, anti-Semitic, and thankfully dead Jerry Falwell Sr.,  recalled his father’s remarks on the RNC stage:

In the days before my father passed away in 2007, he joked with CNN that he dreamed that Chelsea Clinton had interviewed him about the three greatest threats. He replied those three greatest threats are “Osama, Obama, and your mama.”

It’s worth noting that for all the fear-mongering at the RNC convention, nobody really mentioned the legitimate fear that black Americans experience in the face of ongoing excessive use of force by police, such as in the latest incident in Florida in which a black therapist caring for an autistic patient was shot while lying on the ground with his hands up. And while Ted Cruz did say the name of Alton Sterling, it was to commend Sterling’s family for calling for an end to violence after a black man killed five Dallas police officers, not to acknowledge the reality of the constant discrimination experienced by the black community. Many political commentators discussed the surreal and even dystopian nature of the convention, with its reliance upon nationalism (or even fascism in the case of conservative commentator Laura Ingraham) and its constant reliance on fear tactics to whip up the crowd. And while this is certainly true, the aspect of the convention that was perhaps the most concerning was the complete lack of empathy on stage, as there seemed to be no desire either from Trump or his cronies to consider the perspective and problems of those who won’t vote for him or his party. This “us versus them” mentality harkens back to the divisive nature of the Bush years with its reliance upon the idea that other countries and peoples were either “with us or against us.” By splitting America into Trumpites or “losers,” the RNC threatens not only the unity of the American people, but the ability of our government to deal with some of the biggest problems of the day, which inherently require cooperation and compromise.Tags: