US party conventions no longer about serious issues. It’s a circus!

US President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination for reelection during the final day of the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn of the White House on August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. 

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski Afp

What you need to know:

  • And Trump produced a reality show for Americans whose TV networks must have easily recognised.
  • Trump & Co were out to spread fear and scare Americans into voting the President to another four years.

 Former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter addressed the virtual Democratic Convention and, significantly, several heavyweight Republicans opposed to President Donald Trump, too, graced and addressed the convention.

President George W Bush, heavyweights from previous Republican administrations, and 12 sitting Republican Senators skipped the convention and the President’s acceptance address.

This was not a Republican Party convention as I have known it since 1992, whose platform landscaped small government, low taxation, strong military, robust foreign policy, free trade, small businesses and family values.

This was a four-day festival of deification and messianic adulation of Trump. This was a celebration of the GOP Trump has created over the past four years as a personal instrument and fashioned in his style, image and purpose.

It was a convention which confirmed that the Republican Party’s platform and ideology is Trump. He addressed the faithful on each of the four days, dominating his show like an alpha male at whose command family members, including wife Melania, and children, pitched in for dad every day.

And Trump produced a reality show for Americans whose TV networks must have easily recognised. Neil Postman’s 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, remains a great account of the role of entertainment, especially via TV, in American culture, especially electoral culture.

Proudly lead the world

It was easy to forget that 180,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and five million have been infected on Trump’s watch. Those figures were never mentioned, nor was the President’s inept response and equally inadequate musings about using disinfectants against Covid-19, or promotion of treatment of it by a malaria drug.

 You would not have known from those four days that President Trump is waiting, as he has declared many times, for the coronavirus to disappear miraculously. Trump has failed to craft a national strategy, failed to craft a coherent message to rally Americans against the virus – where Germany’s Angela Merkel and New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden have succeeded – and proudly lead the world.

The convention concentrated on portraying Democrat nominee for the White House Joe Biden as captive to his party’s radical left; as a socialist; wrecking ball; beloved of cop killers and murderers of innocents; and as weak on foreign policy but one who would start a war.

Nope, the party conventions were not about issues affecting Americans any more. They were about attacking the other side and driving it to the ground. You cannot beat Trump in that. He derided the Democratic convention as dark and grim only to fill the air with doom and gloom for four days at his convention as he portrayed Biden as set to drive America over the cliff.

Where the Democrats warned Americans that Trump is destroying their democracy and institutions that support it, and is trampling on the law and safety of Americans and the institutions that support them, Trump & Co presented the Democrats as merchants of lawlessness, anarchy, racial hatred and anti-America.

Trump & Co were out to spread fear and scare Americans into voting the President to another four years. They went over the top in using distortions and downright lies in their fear mongering.

Widespread protests

President George W Bush employed similar tactics to portray Democrat challenger John Kerry as ill-equipped to handle security and therefore the office in the wake of 9/11.

Trump, styling himself as the law and order candidate, though presiding over widespread protests and violence, elevated his fear mongering to monstrous heights.

Will what transpired at the conventions move a needle? Trump came across as desperate for the black vote, desperate to be judged on the pre-pandemic performance of the economy and desperate for his incompetent handling of the pandemic to be forgotten and for these to translate into victory on November 3.

The Democrats are desperate for Americans to understand Trump’s desperations, embrace the powerful internal GOP opposition to him, and his mangling of democracy, take to Mr Biden’s empathy and humanity and vote him into the White House.

Will the debates move the needle? Yes. Why? Because Trump will intimidate and bully Biden and suck the air out of the room. There will be no serious discussion. Expect a circus.

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