Thursday, July 21, 2016

The United States of Trump

I don't think you could have scripted a more dystopian vision of America than what is being laid out at the Republican Convention.  Frustration and anger have turned to contempt and hatred of the most virulent kind with one of Trump's delegates, Al Baldassaro, calling for the execution of Hillary Clinton for treason.  Chris Christie, who has been put in charge of Trump's White House "transition team," said that a Trump administration would seek Congressional approval to purge all Obama appointees over the last 8 years.  Prime targets would be those appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency, which Trump would like to do away with all together.

Let's not forget that four short years ago, Chris was flying around hurricane-damaged New Jersey with Barack Obama, telling everyone what a good guy he is for bailing out his failed state.  But, it appears the pugnacious governor is willing to be Trump's lapdog even if his only role is to go out for hamburgers.  It seems Trump's children carry most of the weight inside the Trump campaign, which has to eat at Chris, who gave up everything to be a part of the slow-motion trainwreck, not that he had much to give.

The first days of the convention saw a rogues' gallery of dubious celebrities, former military and political leaders telling the gathered audience how great it would be if Trump was given absolute power to do with America what he will.  We also heard Dr. Ben Carson compare Hillary Clinton to Lucifer and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn stage a mock trial that resulted in chants to "lock her up!"    The only one not sure what to make of Donald J. Trump was Ted Cruz, who urged Republicans to vote their conscience, resulting in a shower of boos.  Looks like only Trumpkins were allowed admission to Quicken Loans Arena.

A mass hysteria has swept the convention that resembles what you would see in one of those mega-churches, as Trump has taken on god-like proportions to those faithful to him.  Trump introduced Melania to the crowd like Jim Baker would Tammy Faye.  His Slovenian wife offered a canned speech in response, sampling portions of it from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech.  But, you have to hand it to Melania, she looked dazzling. 

Most prominent Republicans have stayed away from the convention, hoping to distance themselves from their nominee.  Bob Dole is one of the few former Republican leaders to openly endorse Trump.  Oddly enough, Trump is very popular among elder Americans, despite the fact that there is nothing to indicate his policies would benefit them in any way.  You could say that for pretty much everybody, but for whatever reason Trump has the geriatric vote locked up.

Not to say there aren't some older, wiser Republicans who are not insterested in Trump, notably George H.W. Bush, who has refused to even acknowledge the GOP nominee.  Dubya has similarly chosen to ignore Trump as he stumps for Republican Congressional candidates.  Of course, there is a personal element here as Trump was merciless in his attacks of Jeb Bush on the campaign trail.

Trump apparently tried to heal the rift by having Donald Jr., reach out to John Kasich to be Vice-President, but the Kasich team said no thanks even after being offered virtual control of the White House.  The Trump campaign has since backed away from any such offer, but apparently all VP candidates were screened by Trump's three oldest children and Ivanka's husband.  Mike Pence similarly had to win the approval of Trump's kids.  The Indiana governor may appeal to the religious faithful within the GOP, but it is doubtful he will have very much pull outside this narrow ideological group.  I suppose it doesn't really matter to Trump, who would have never given that much power to Kasich or anyone else as Veep.  This campaign is entirely about himself.

At this point, Trump's best hope is that the general election becomes a four-way race, as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are both gaining traction in the polls.  Johnson may even reach the 15 per cent threshold necessary to participate in the Presidential debates this Fall.  If the two independents can garner as much as 20 per cent of the electorate, Trump only needs to poll 41 per cent to win, greatly increasing his chances.  The only problem is that these two outside candidates seem to be drawing more disgruntled conservatives than they are liberals.

For now, Donald J. Trump is content to be anointed the Republican nominee, projecting an aura of power like a third world dictator.  This is what he shelled out $55 million for in the primaries.  His appearance tonight should spike the ratings as so far this convention has done no better than the lackluster 2012 convention that gave us Mitt Romney.   It is hard to understand why he enlisted such minor players to speak for him but I suppose that only makes him look that much bigger when he finally takes the stage.

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