RNC a gaslight convention

In what universe do Trump Republicans reside?  The world embraced by their national convention is the kind of horror show I’d never pay to see, and couldn’t sit through if it were free. Cue threatening music: the Democrats will bring carnage. They will kill the suburbs. They are the radical left and will create anarchy.  Predictably, after the shooting of Jacob Blake, Jr. in the back, they focused on the agitators among the peaceful protesters in Kenosha, ignored the 17-year-old faux militia male who shot and killed two people,  and “Willie Hortoned” the Democrats to exacerbate fear.

In his inaugural address January 20, 2017, newly sworn-in President Donald J. Trump declared solemnly, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”  Well, Mr. President, the carnage you railed about last night happened on your watch, not Joe Biden’s,  not the Democrats’. You   have   failed.

You have fanned the flames of hatred. You have taken a long history of police brutality toward Blacks and made it acceptable to shoot an unarmed Black man seven times in the back, in front of his three young children. You have taken a traditional gun owners’  defense of the Second Amendment and made it okay for a 17-year-old from Illinois to travel to Kenosha, WI to “protect business” and use his AR-15 to kill two protesters.  Mr. President, you have played to the worst of us and fomented evil.

As if we needed proof, this week’s GOP convention shows Donald Trump’s game to be one of subtraction not of addition. He cares only about his base, having hijacked the Republican Party and driven out the thoughtful conservatives and their foundational philosophy.  He has shaped the GOP into a cult of personality, centering on an authoritarian “dear leader.”  What his followers want is what he wants at any given moment.  And he, and they, will destroy all civilized norms to get it.

HIJACKING the People’s House.  Particularly obnoxious was the cheesy use of the White House as a setting for political interviews and speeches. Especially lamentable was the naturalization ceremony swearing in of five immigrants, a feel-good ceremony until you remember there are scores of others (includingthousands of babies separated from parents at the border) whom Trump’s executive orders and administrative actions have barred from entering the United States since he took office. This is all made worse in learning the new citizens didn’t know they’d be used as political props and that their swearing-in may be unlawful because acting DHS head Chad Wolf  had failed to go before the Senate in a timely way.  (He was “acting” for two months longer than legal, and Trump submitted his official nomination just two days ago.)  Shouldn’t they be sworn in again by a federal judge lest they become targets for deportation?

VIOLATING the Hatch Act. Even worse, the possibly criminal move to have Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participate while in Israel,  on the job as a representative of all Americans to the nations of the world…..in complete violation of the Hatch Act, which bars employees of the executive branch of federal government (except the President and Vice President) from participating in political campaigns. The Department had recently sent several memos to employees reminding them of such limitations. That’s now under investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, “The people don’t care.”  Oh,  really? Also probably a violation, Trump’s use of uniformed Marines for ceremonial door openings. How much taxpayer money was unlawfully used? To another President, I’d ask, “have you no shame?” With Trump, we know the answer.

NO NEW 2020 party platform.  The Atlantic has extrapolated from Trump’s actions over the past four years to put a platform together. Tax cuts for the rich. Open up the economy and consider related COVID deaths as the price worth paying. Climate change a hoax so deregulate all protections. Embrace Israel and Russia to the exclusion of all other global partners. Eliminate federal role in regulating voting to ensure access. Free-market-only approach to health care. Wipe out over-reach in imposing ethical standards. Elect more judges who will, among other things, overturn women’s protective rights. There’s more, but you get the idea.

LONG LITANY OF LIES. In an era when the Washington Post’s fact checker has charted 20,000+ lies told by Donald Trump,  it still shocks to see the willingness of his acolytes spew them out at the convention. Click here for Vice President Mike Pence’s litany of lies. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley praised Trump for standing up to our enemies, while he preens about his loving relationship with Kim Jong Un, admires Turkey’s right-wing President Erdogan for helping secure the release of prisoners (whom Erdogan had unlawfully detained in the first place) and behaves as a lap dog for KGB thug Vladimir Putin. Trump promises to protect people’s health coverage from exclusions for preexisting conditions while, all the time, his administration has been dismantling the Affordable Care Act. His proposed payroll tax cut, if adopted, would gut Social Security. He hails the success of his response to “the Chinese virus” while he has mishandled it at every step along the way, and now, apparently, has pressured the Centers for Disease Control to scale back testing.  Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA,  prompts a gag response in calling Trump “the bodyguard of Western civilization!”

photo NY Times

The only touch of humanity in the proceedings was First Lady Melania Trump’s Tuesday night speech in which she (who formerly supported her husband’s birther claims) expressed empathy for the families of those dead from the coronavirus and those still suffering. Dressed in a “fascist chic” military style outfit made in Italy, she also gave a nod to the troubled and unresolved racial problems in our history. But, for the most part, she joined the litany of myths and misrepresentations about her beloved husband.

The country is at a crossroads. The election is 67 days away. Given the electoral college, Donald Trump could still win reelection. Joe Biden has to step up his game. His lead in the polls, especially in battleground states, is not wide enough to be reassuring. Each one of us has a role to play, now, before it is too late.

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