For the last few nights, I’ve watched the Republican National Convention–determined to have an open mind. As an editor and as a journalist, my personal politics are less important than my responsibility to translate what I see and hear, and reflect it back so that you can wrap your heads around the reality of what is taking place in America. Trust us when we say, it’s not pretty.
The Republican Party has some major problems, and the least of these is Donald Trump. The politicians today who label themselves Republican conservatives do not recognize themselves in the actions of Republicans who label themselves Tea Party conservatives. They don’t recognize fiscal conservatives, or Constitutional conservatives either, for that matter. Each has its message; its supporters; its mandates. They barely know how to talk to one another anymore these days, and are completely paralyzed in their effort to accomplish anything in Congress, despite having a majority.
Add into this puddle of political inconsistency a man named Donald Trump. A clown so incapable of coming up with a concept that is workable that he covers his lack of knowledge and experience with hyperbole about high walls or racial insults so blatant that world leaders look at him like some sort of Yankee punchline from a dirty joke.
Yet there we were, determined to keep an open mind as the show went on: the red, white and blue balloons netted high about the delegates who were making every effort to pretend that there was a party going on. Screams and shouts and high-fives all around as if their laughing stock of a candidate with his laughing stock of a running mate, vice-presidential wanna-be Mike Pence, will somehow pass as the real deal if they could just make enough noise to distract attention for the truth that one of them is a racist and a bigot, and the other is a bigot and a woman hater, albeit one with political connections.
As fascinating as it is to watch these loyal conservatives party in Cleveland, it’s even more interesting to notice who didn’t make the trip. Apparently many legitimate Republicans hate their candidates so much that they did the unthinkable. They didn’t come out to play at all. Ohio governor John Kasich, who lives just two hours away, wanted no part of it. Neither did Ohio Senator Rob Portman. No living GOP nominee showed up (except Bob Dole who looked like he was lost and thought he was in Cleveland). None of the Bushes were there—and we all know how large that family tree is.
We looked but couldn’t find Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska. Ditto Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire and Marco Rubio from Florida. Rubio, of course, is nearly as nasty a bigot as vp hopeful Mike Pence, so he should have felt right at home. But even Marco Rubio was too uncomfortable with the Trump-Pence ticket to travel to Cleveland and pretend that this fiasco is going to have a happy ending.
“Make America Great Again” sounds like it’s such an honorable goal until it’s put in the guise of an absentee landlord turned politician who drops only vague clues how he’s going to achieve this seeming miracle. Forget that he’s giving the boot to 11 million illegal immigrants who willingly do much of the manual labor in this country. Ban all Muslims, with or without Burqas from entering the U.S. Slap tariffs on all Chinese and Mexican imports, increasing the cost of some cars and food by 50%. Oh, and let’s not forget the $10 trillion in tax cuts for the rich over the next decade. Somehow, we’re not feeling “great” yet.
As we write this, there is one day left in the Republican National Convention—the one in which Donald Trump will speak. The balloons will drop; everyone will dance in the aisles; to Queen’s We Are the Champions to which he does not own the rights. Ah, but technicalities aside, like everything in the Republican Presidential race, this convention was all about The Donald, and making good TV.
Instead we got television at its worst. Misinformation, misdirection, and a missed opportunity to bring together a party now ripped apart more than ever.