The last meaningful political convention that decided anything of substance was in 1976 between incumbent President Gerald Ford and challenger Ronald Reagan. Today, the sole purpose of such national political conventions is showmanship: crown the winner of the primary elections, and enthuse party members to go forth and do battle for their candidates in the future. It is all done with the American people looking in at the drama and festivities. It is the best campaign opportunity you get to speak directly to the American people, to define who you are, and to show your vision and capability.
Instead, this year, given all of the chaos, disruptions, divisiveness, missteps, and desperately false explanations (Really? Hillary Clinton was responsible for Malania’s plagiarism?), we saw a convention plagued by errors –consistent with and reflective of the Trump campaign itself. A convention designed and executed by a tight family circle of campaign novices. If one cannot successfully manage his/her coronation to expectations, an event over which you have almost total decision-making authority, why should we think that person can possibly lead a country of 300M diverse people over which s/he has minimal authority?
Donald Trump selling himself as the “Law and Order candidate” is a reach-back to Richard Nixon’s and George Wallace’s campaigns in 1968. His rallying cry of “America First” was a reach-back to the pre-World War II isolationist movement. Neither of those ideas worked out very well then, and to speak of them today doesn’t bode well for “new, forward thinking.” Yes we have some problems in our country today, problems that need to be solved. But “Make America Great Again” does not sit well with one who believes America has been, and still is, pretty damn Great already, even if imperfect. If we are ever able to get re-focused again, and stop being distracted by one-shot fly-by-night would-be leaders trying to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge on the cheap, we can return to the vision and ability to fix that which ails us that we are so admired for throughout the world. And we can fix it without the need for pointing fingers. Donald Trump may be “the Voice” speaking for an extremely angry public, but he does not speak for me with his dark vision of where America is now, and where he would lead it in the future. I learned long ago that anyone who feels they have to yell at me that loud to try to make their point is usually trying to cover over the shallowness of the substance of their argument.
In the end, the phrase “Only I can fix it” is a perfect epitaph of what is wrong with Donald Trump and his pseudo-campaign – a campaign built not on the substance of ideas but on a continual ridicule of the reputations of his opponents and assault on their character. It is the arrogance of a single individual claiming to have all of the answers while saying “Just trust me,” even though he lacks any experience whatsoever in public service or international relations to ground his thinking or demonstrate his ability. That lacking is combined with the highly erroneous view that the Presidency of the United States is just another CEO position in yet another family-run business. It ain’t. The kindergarteners are running the school; the amateurs are running the campaign. All at a time when the need for competence and experience are more important than ever. That competence and experience were not on display in Cleveland.
One wonders just how far afield our fears, anger, and blaming of others are going to take us before our fundamental sanity, traditional self-confidence, and famous “can do” working-together capability set back in. Before we realize – the would-be emperor has no clothes.
© 2016 Randy Bell www.ThoughtsFromTheMountain.blogspot.com