As boomers we have long experience watching political conventions, so we know that the cornerstone of any party’s convention is hyperbole. But this year’s Republican convention, as BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes in this Boomer Opinion piece, puts past hyperbole to shame.
I wasn’t even going to write about the two political parties’ conventions. Plenty already is being written elsewhere. But on the Republicans’ third night, when I heard Vice President Mike Pence warn, “You will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” I thought “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Because when you look around, using the Republicans’ own ominous measures to define the future under Biden, we’re not safe now in Donald Trump’s America.
Begin with the apple that didn’t fall at all far from the tree, Donald Trump Jr. In his convention speech he portrayed the Trump-Biden contest as a choice: “church, work, and school” versus “rioting, looting, and vandalism.”
Um, excuse me Junior, but for the past few months, and occasionally before that since Daddy Trump tromped into the Oval Office, we’ve had “rioting, looting, and vandalism” from coast to coast. That isn’t in Joe Biden’s America. It’s in Donald Trump’s America. If that’s the future, the future is now.
Or before Junior at the convention, his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, former Fox commentator (and in a peculiar gyration, former wife of California’s Democrat governor Gavin Newsom), who shouted to the rooftops (yes, literally), “Rioters must not be allowed to destroy our cities.” Kimberly and Don Jr. must be smoking the same weed. Although rioters are not truly destroying whole cities, they are destroying parts of them. But take a look: it’s in Donald Trump’s America, not Joe Biden’s.
So we won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America? Maybe the Vice President needs a reboot. But is he capable of one? Although speaking in the midst of the deadly bloodshed in Kenosha, he uttered no more than this boilerplate warning: “Let me be clear, the violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha” (which was, by the way, the only time Kenosha even came up all night). Under the headline, “Pence seemed to forget who is in office,” a Minneapolis columnist asked a perfectly rational question: “By what logic was the vice president blaming Joe Biden for… the breakdown of law and order?” To which I would add, was that the vice president’s best shot at attacking the underlying reasons for the violence?
If so, don’t tell me what’s safe and what’s not.
But there were so many more alarmist admonitions at the GOP gala, all in keeping with the fear-mongering from Pence. Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn: “If the Democrats had their way, they would keep you locked in your house until you become dependent on the government for everything.” Millennial conservative Charlie Kirk spoke of “the vengeful mob that seeks to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, churches…” South Dakota governor Kristi Noem bewailed that cities run by Democrats are “overrun by violent mobs,” with people “left to fend for themselves.” California school choice advocate Rebecca Friedrich warned that teachers’ unions had “morphed our schools into war zones.” And in a predictable piece of posturing, Patricia McCloskey, who with her husband Mark pointed weapons at peaceful protestors passing their suburban St. Louis home back in June, told the convention, “No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrat America.”
What hypocrisy. She and her husband clearly didn’t feel safe in Donald Trump’s America.
Neither do I. I don’t feel safe from domestic violence when social media posts from the young man charged with killing two people in Kenosha with his assault-style rifle show that he was a gun-loving admirer of Donald Trump’s. Like others who’ve come before him.
I don’t feel safe from foreign threats when we have a president who trashes the leaders from our alliances, which were formed to keep us safe, while cosseting despots whose hostile ways threaten that safety. A president naive enough to “fall in love” with a merciless dictator like Kim Jong-un, who now is farther down the road than ever before as a nuclear threat against us.
I don’t even feel that my ballot is safe, with Trump and his acolytes doing whatever they can from the courthouse to the statehouse to suppress our votes. For that matter, with all his scare-mongering about a “rigged” election, can we even feel that its outcome will be safe, if Trump is tossed out by the voters?
And I still don’t feel safe from the pandemic, not when thanks to Trump’s appalling example, public events at the Republican convention itself— including his openly illegal use on the final night of the White House itself, the People’s House— were littered with lackeys wearing no masks and practicing no prudent social distancing.
Is this what you call feeling safe in Donald Trump’s America? Sounds more like the “American carnage” he condemned the day he was sworn into office.
And speaking of the pandemic, how can we feel safe when the president and the vice president just flat-out lie about their lack of leadership? Trump, Pence promised the convention, “marshaled the full resources of our federal government from the outset.” Tell that to all who suffered for months— including the 180,000 now dead in the U.S. alone— from insufficient supplies of everything from ventilators to face masks. As for Pence’s claim of “a seamless partnership with governors across America,” I can lead you to a group of governors, left on their own to compete for precious protective equipment, who would disagree.
Granted, as a production, the Republican convention was slick. Much slicker than the Democrats’. But that’s just flash. It really means nothing when you’ve got some snake oil salesmen inside the tent, trying to sell you on ideas that just aren’t true.
Sitting in the Director’s Chair of course is Donald J. Trump. He had called the Democratic convention, the week before his, the “gloomiest convention in American history.” Like his vice president, he needs a reboot too.
Or even better, they both just need the boot.