My latest newspaper column:
Is anyone out there still undecided? To those who saw the conventions, the differences couldn’t be more glaring. Of course people who watched the DNC on Fox “news” won’t have seen it so clearly. Predictably, they cut away from some of the most compelling DNC speeches, including, on the last night, the immigrant Muslim father of an immigrant Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, who offered to lend his copy of the Constitution to Donald Trump. Every time a speaker was putting the lie to the lies they like to tell, Fox “news” pulled an O’Reilly and shut it down. Which helps explain why the Foxified believe the half-view of liberalism and of America they’re constantly fed. And why Trump’s imaginary wall is such a perfect symbol of what keeps the parties separated so widely.
The contrasts between the two parties and between their chosen candidates are as clear as the Cascade Mountains on a crisp winter day, so it should be easy to decide on which side of the chasm one resides. Some third-party vote-wasters still claim there are no meaningful distinctions; yet, presented with information, certain judgments must be made. If you get anaphylaxis from bees, you carry an EpiPen. Not a “maybe” thing. Similarly, you ought to know whether you think diversity makes America strong or weak, or whether Jesus called for love or hate. Is the climate changing or not? If so, is mankind playing a role, and is it a threat? Does wealth inequality threaten capitalism or enable it? Can ISIS bring down America or not? These are binary questions. No middle ground.
By observation, the RNC was about excluding, the DNC about including. The RNC presented America in decline, in existential peril, and it served up a delusional, fragile, carnival barker who’ll thinks he’ll fix it all by himself. The DNC was about people working together, especially when they disagree, to make it better. America is already great, they affirmed, but still could use improvement. It’s in the cauldron of differing opinions, it was insisted, that our best ideas are brewed. At the RNC, disagreement meant disloyalty, and not just to party: to America. That divergence of views isn’t subtle. Pick a side.
Look at the audiences: the RNC was virtually all white. Some like what they saw, a representation of the America they long for. The other was a mélange of color. For many, that’s precisely the problem with Democrats; others consider it reality from which there’s no going back, wall or no wall, and welcome it as a source of our exceptionalism. No neutral ground there, either.
Still can’t decide? What about the people, including police, you saw at the DNC (unless you watched Fox “news”) calling for healing the loss of trust between cops and minority communities? Praising officers and the job they do while appealing for listening to one another. Speakers included families of cops killed on duty and families of victims of violence. At the RNC, healing didn’t fit; as in all matters, it’s zero-sum. Screaming Rudy Giuliani reminded me of the guy in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” whose face, moments after he said, “It’s beeyoootifullll,” melted. Assessing the DNC, Donald Trump concluded there wasn’t enough talk of terrorism. Of course he did: mainlining fear is his game. And, reducing patriotism to stagecraft, he said there were too few flags. He hugs them, after all.
Contra expectations, religious values were more evident at the DNC than the RNC, appealing to the best of Christianity (and others): promoting love, forgiveness, charity, and acceptance, even of other- and non-believers; as opposed to the perversion of religion used by today’s Republicans to justify hate, marginalization, and selfishness. Relevant?
If you took the convention speakers at their word, you must know where you stand. I doubt Republicans were lying about their dark view and preference for a narcissistic bully. I assume the Foxified believe Democrats were lying (or misguided) about their hopeful, inclusive outlook. Given their decades of laying the groundwork for him, it’s unsurprising that today’s Republicans selected Trump. But I have no idea how true conservatives could vote for him. (I know some. They’re not.)[Image source]