David Levi Strauss / Dispatch / GOP Day 4

Dispatch 7: Befriending the Bewildered


Donald Trump just finished his “acceptance” speech at the convention. With this speech, translated from the original German (thank you Molly Ivins) onto teleprompters, Trump swept away all the tentative attempts at unity and understanding and diversity, most of them offered by his own family, over the past four days. He took all the vitriol and pomposity and demagoguery spewed in his primary campaign rallies and turned it up a notch. This speech was fueled by xenophobia, nativism, protectionism, and nationalism. It used catchwords and phrases from the history of these tendencies: “Make America Great Again” from Ronald Reagan, “America First” from Charles Lindbergh, “Law and Order” from Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, and “I am your Voice,” and “the time for action has come,” from Mussolini.

He began the speech with a little humility and a little humanity, but then started to veer off. The message rapidly became: You are in danger. We are all in danger, and the danger is increasing, both domestically and internationally. The danger comes from the outside, from foreigners—immigrants and terrorists, or immigrant/terrorists. You need me to protect you. I am the only one who can protect you. “I will restore law and order to our country. Believe me. Believe me.” “On January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.” “I will build a Great Border Wall.”

This litany of fear was larded with attacks on his opponent, Hillary Clinton. She does not understand the danger, and so is not fit to lead. She is weak. She must not only be defeated; she must be imprisoned for her “great crimes.”

The rest of the opposition is led by “censors, critics, and cynics” in the media and in politics, who said from the beginning that Trump didn’t have a chance. “We love defeating those people.”

As he spoke (the speech lasted an hour and fifteen minutes; the longest acceptance speech since Nixon’s in 1972), I scanned the faces of his family. Malania was completely inert and robotized. Eric was gleeful. Ivanka and Donald Junior had looks on their faces that I could not read. But of course they’ve all been hearing this demagoguery regularly for a long time, and have accepted it in their own ways.

At least now things are clear. The conservatives and reasonable Republicans that have rolled over for Trump must now know exactly what they’re supporting, and what the election of Trump would mean for America and the world.

David Levi Strauss
Thursday, July 21, 2016, 11:55 pm

[Photograph from the Convention floor by Jon Winet & Allen Spore. July 21, 2016.Click on the images to see an enlargement.]

LINK to all David Levi Strauss Power 2016 Dispatches

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