Friday, July 22, 2016

The Republican Convention 2016

Watching the Republican Convention this week, I believe the above cartoon summarizes the thought processes of the delegates.

Donald Trump’s Caesar Moment by Jeff Greenfield, Politico Magazine: 

“It was a speech [written by Stephen Miller and] perfectly suited to the nominee [who is narcissistic and incoherent]. It was a speech utterly unconnected to anything we have ever heard from any previous nominee. It was, then, exactly what we should have expected from this most unexpected of candidates: [more fear mongering, impossibilities, and platitudes].

“Most American presidential nominees—indeed, most convention speakers—pay homage to out-sized figures of the nation's past, even some from the other side of the spectrum. House Speaker Paul Ryan, as did countless others in Cleveland, paid homage to Ronald Reagan. Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence told the assembled Republicans that ‘the heroes of my youth were President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’ Ronald Reagan himself, back in 1980, quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt. In past conventions, the Founding Fathers were invoked, or inspirational party leaders of the past, or some link to the heritage of party or country.

“And Donald Trump? In his speech, there was no thread of any kind linking him to past American greats [because Trump does not read historical books. He only reads fictional accounts about himself. There was] no sense that he [was] following any tradition. Indeed, in one of the best-received lines of the speech, he told us, of our ‘rigged’ system: ‘I alone can fix it.’ Fix it with his own party’s leadership in Congress, or with an aroused populace? No. ‘I alone can fix it,’ [he said with his Napoleonic sense of self-importance]!

“In so many other ways, Trump presented himself as a man alone, imbued with the power to do what no other person or institution can do. Consider how he described his visits to ‘the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.’

“‘I am your voice,’ [he said, the voice of the G.O.P.'s Moneyed Class]. In his speech, Trump defined himself as a bedrock figure in American culture: the figure who faces danger alone, who follows his own code of conduct. 

“In this declaration—repeated at the end of the speech—Trump defined himself as a bedrock figure in American culture: the figure who faces danger alone, who follows his own code of conduct. He is Gary Cooper, standing alone against the Miller Gang in Hadleyville. To be more precise, and more contemporary, he is the man who uses his great wealth to protect the powerless from evil: He’s Bruce Wayne as Batman, Tony Stark as Ironman [but he's really a combination of Henry the Eighth, Mussolini, and Madonna].

“In this persona, there is no room for a note of good humor or the kind of self-deprecation we've seen in other nominees [there is only room for authoritarianism and bigotry]. Mike Pence noted, in introducing himself to the crowd, that Trump ‘is a man known for having a large personality, a colorful style, and lots of charisma. I think he was just looking for some balance on the ticket…’ [a balance that now joins together a Donald Sterling type of character with Fred Phelps].

“Nor is there any room for a cautionary note about the limits of presidential power. John Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, for instance, ends by saying of his: ‘all this will not be finished in the 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1000 days, nor in the life of this Administration.’

“What does Trump say? ‘…The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end… On the economy, I will outline reforms to add millions of new jobs and trillions in new wealth that can be used to rebuild America… On January 21st of 2017, the day after I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced… I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio… and to America – and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.’ [These are just a few of his delusions of grandeur and his hypocrisy].

“It is impossible to imagine anyone else giving an acceptance speech so disconnected from anything in the American political tradition. In this speech, we have finally seen the answer to the perplexing question of just what political philosophy Donald Trump embraces. It is Caesarism: belief in a leader of great strength who, by force of personality, imposes order on a land plagued by danger. 

“If you want to know why Trump laid such emphasis on ‘law and order’—using Richard Nixon’s 1968 rhetoric in a country where violent crime is at a 40-year low—it is because nations fall under the sway of a Caesar only when they are engulfed by fear. And the subtext of this [dystopian] acceptance speech was: be afraid; be very afraid.

“It is impossible to imagine anyone else giving an acceptance speech so disconnected from anything in the American political tradition. Whether voters see that departure as a cause for celebration or worry may help decide what happens in November.”


  1. "...Trump is a master of bullshit, so we shouldn’t be surprised to find many of the 'facts' presented 'plainly and honestly' were actually not just wrong but exactly the opposite of the truth. Others were cleverly cherry picked to disguise it..." (Lucia Graves).

  2. “…For 216 years, our elections, though bitterly contested, have featured the philosophies and character of candidates who were clearly qualified. That is not the case this year. One is glaringly not qualified... [We] must do everything [we] can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter [our] political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships.

    “I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and – they feel – powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that – as often happens on TV – a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.

    “As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong…” —Ken Burns

  3. "The GOP’s new big dog blew the whistle Thursday night for nearly an hour and a half and it was loud and shrill enough to reach the ears of every angry, resentful, disaffected white American. The tone was divisive, dark, dystopian and grim.

    "Here was the alpha dog of the von Trump family, baying at a blood-red moon that the hills are alive with the sounds of menace.

    "According to Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, this land is rapidly becoming as bleak and dangerous as one of those twisted, vicious kingdoms in Game of Thrones, a place filled with violent crime and despair, a smoldering ruin overrun with foreigners out to take our jobs and terrorists bent on destroying our villages.

    "It’s mourning in America. And only he can save us...

    "Watching [Trump], we could only think of Augustus, during the first century B.C., in a time roiled by corruption and the wealth of empire, who terminated the government and installed himself as emperor, careful to preserve all the forms of the republic while dispensing with their meaning.

    "Or, as the less august, but funnier folks at The Onion tweeted while the smoke from Trump’s cannonade lingered into the night, 'Thanks for joining our live coverage of the RNC. This concludes democracy'" (Donald Trump's Dark and Scary Night by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship).

  4. “...Throughout the 2016 Republican National Convention the hateful discourse of red-faced anger and unbridled fear-mongering added up to more than an appeal to protect America and make it safe again. Such weakly coded invocations also echoed the days of Jim Crow, the undoing of civil rights, forced expulsions and forms of state terrorism sanctioned in the strident calls for safety and law-and-order..." -Henry A. Giroux