My latest newspaper column (they're giving me one a week now):
I’ve watched many presidential conventions, and have viewed images from before my time. Never have I seen the name of the nominee emblazoned in fifteen-foot letters above the stage. Always there’s been at least the pretense that conventions were about ideas, “democracy” in action. In Cleveland it wasn’t “Yes we can,” it was “Yes YOU will.” The same Foxified people who spent eight years imagining President Obama is a dictator gave themselves over like cats in heat to a con man who promises to be exactly that. I’d call it irony, but the word isn’t in their lexicon. Besides, to everyone else, it’s obvious.
Without irony, Donald TRUMP promised to end crime and insecurity on day one. Yes, he did. “Yes,” sang the choir. “You will.” (There’s only one way that could happen, of course: change the definitions. And why not? He changed the definition of “factual” months ago.) Without irony, the man who made his fortune by scamming others and by not living up to contracts calls his opponent “crooked.” Without irony, the man who’s gone bankrupt multiple times asks to manage our economy. And without irony, the same people who scream about Obama’s budget deficits (far lower than Bush’s) would elect a man whose economic plans, as judged by impartial economic analyses, would add tens of trillions to the debt, hugely more than Hillary Clinton’s. In what world does this make sense?
In the one, I guess, where there’s no climate change; the one in which tobacco doesn’t cause cancer (says TRUMP’s veep), and the one in which coal is “clean energy” (per the platform coughed up in Cleveland). The one where the best approach to ISIS is to “bomb the s#!t out of them” and kill their children, and in which demonizing all Muslims is the way to guarantee their help in the fight against terrorism. It makes sense in a world in which it’s normal when the candidate of a formerly great political party calls for cyber-attacks on his opponents by a foreign adversary; when his businesses are evidently beholden to Russian financiers, and when he practically invites Russia to invade NATO countries. In a world in which it’s fine that Putin and other tyrants are his idea of “strong leadership.” In one where the hopeful rhetoric of Barack Obama could transition to the vile tweets of an incoherent bully. Lovely world, that.
Confident his supporters wouldn’t care, Donald TRUMP told at least twenty-one documented lies in his acceptance speech: about taxes, crime, immigration, and, of course, Hillary Clinton. His rapt audience loved every one of them.
Recalling history, this is how it begins. First come preemptive efforts to discredit anyone who might call out their falsehoods: the media. Intellectuals. Experts. Then come the lies: enemies are everywhere, aiming to destroy the country from within. Immigrants. Muslims. Mexicans. Liberals. Jews. Gays. Stoking flames with their bellows, they warn of imminent annihilation. “Be afraid,” scream their rudy(!)-faced minions. Only then, having suppressed resistance by fear and mockery, do they, self-anointed saviors, mount stages festooned with idolatry, asserting, to grateful acclamation, their singular ability to save us. “I alone can fix it,” they declare. “Yes, oh yes,” beseech the affrighted believers. “Save us from those monstrous things of which you speak.” (The only thing I have to fear is lack of fear itself, smirks the despot.)
When not inciting existential terror, the RNC was a primal hate-fest. Bereft of positive ideas, it became a nonstop attack on the opposition, and the audience, uninterested in policy, gobbled it down. Calls for shooting or hanging Hillary Clinton were met with delirious approbation by an enraged mob. The shouts of “Lock her up, lock her up,” called to mind the savage children of Lord of the Flies. By the book, the one of his idol, the megalomaniac accomplished his mission, rationality vanquished. “I alone can fix it,” said he, and those in attendance thrilled in gratitude. “I alone,” he beamed below the fifteen-foot letters. “I alone will save you from the not-you.”
There, at the hands of Donald TRUMP’s enraptured disciples, democracy died. And then, deaf to lies and dumb with fear, they danced on its grave.[I don't remember the image source. But it was everywhere.]