By David Glenn Cox
Once upon a time, political conventions were fantasy dreams covered in whipped cream. “And if elected I promise puppies for children. Good schools for the young and a golden retirement for Seniors. The grass will grow greener, and the sky will be bluer. We shall live in a land of golden sunsets and unlimited opportunity.” The band cranks up “Happy Days are Here Again” and everyone marches around the room in a conga line. It’s a party, a celebration. A time filled with optimism for the potential of high ideals bereft of political realities of an administration yet unborn.
Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. In 1948, Harry Truman insisted on desegregation being included in the party platform and the delegations from the usual suspect states famously walked out. Hubert Humphrey struck up the band and led the crowd in waving goodbye to the southern delegations. The walkout backfired spectacularly, and Truman was re-elected. Twenty years later the issue was Vietnam. Hawks and Doves fighting it out on the streets of Chicago. Mayor Daley screaming “F*ck you!” at the stage from the convention floor. “And we’ll be right back to 1968 Democratic National Convention after a word from these sponsors.” Who boy, riots outside and shouting matches inside. Reporters being shoved on the convention floor as newspaper cameramen had their cameras smashed by police less than a mile away.
It’s harder than it looks generating enthusiasm. Like the pep squad in high school you are either into that sort of thing or you’re not. “And if you can’t hear us, we’ll yell a little louder!” I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream peer group indoctrination intended to give the participants a sense of power and unity and the audience a spectacle like the wave at the ballpark. A coating of glitz and excitement to cover a framework of dull political speeches. We don’t have a Kremlin balcony in this country your standing in the party hierarchy is displayed at the convention.
Each convention with a theme and a theme song promoting the image of a swan flowing gracefully across the lake while fighting death matches underneath the waterline. The show inside the show, inside baseball. Bill Clinton with his saxophone or Obama with his cool demeanor. They had that spark and charisma that made you want to vote for them. Harry Truman while not a great speaker had the ability to answer a question in a way as to leave no uncertainty. If you asked you were given an articulate well-reasoned answer. He didn’t dodge the truth or shade his answers, and it inspired confidence.
It helps to have good looks the young John Kennedy made Nixon look like a sinister troll living under a bridge. Eisenhower had prestige. The conquering General of World War II saw the White House as a part-time job. It was something to do between rounds of golf. But that is what America wanted at that time was the strong silent don’t do much kind of guy. Having put World War II to bed America wanted peace and quiet and Eisenhower fit the bill perfectly. Some candidacies are fated for good or for ill. Ike couldn’t be beat, and Carter couldn’t win. McGovern couldn’t win, Dukakis couldn’t win the tide and time were running the other way.
Promoting a vision of America, hackneyed, cornball a weeklong TV commercial. But in the words of President what’s his name, “It is what it is.” But last night ushered in a new kind of political convention. “Beautiful country you got here. Be a shame if something happened to it. You know if you elect Joe Biden MS-13 is going to move in next door to your house. They’re going to defund the police and encourage riots. Their gonna take your guns of course and make reading the Bible a felony.
So absent talent of willing volunteers the President’s son’s girlfriend gave a keynote address. Do you know why they call it a keynote? Because it sets the theme for the night. And the theme was, you must love the Fuhrer. If you do not love the Fuhrer, he could be lost to us and the forces of evil will take over. It makes you want to dig up Orwell and kill him all over again. A screaming Orwellian nightmare, “Now is the time when we must all support Big Brother, or you’ll get worse. Wait and see what Joe Biden does to your chocolate ration!” How you ask could it be any worse? Gym Jordan and Matt Gaetz were also featured speakers from the self-serving wing of the extremist coalition. And their message was the usual snarling and complaining about their poor put upon lives.
I could only watch a few minutes at a time but Trumpy promised optimism and delivered cultism. Congressman Ryan has landed, who is still loyal to Reverend Jim? Like hostage taking, threatening the audience. “If you don’t vote for me, you’re gonna be really sorry about it, do you here me? Campaign promises, sure I’ll give you a campaign promise, vote for me or else!” A dark, dark shadow, as the message is, do as you’re told.
Rather than suspending reality for a vision of a better world they offer, everyone is lying, everyone is out to get us. Those charges are false ask the Attorney General. I’m a great guy! You can ask my son’s girlfriend, she’ll tell you! You can ask my son, he’ll tell you!
It seems Trumpy is unaware of the meaning for the word optimistic. Arguing violence, MS-13, riots in the streets this is his domestic vision, if he’s not elected. If elected his vision is for you shut up and get out of here before I give you something to cry about.
Underneath it all was a sense of futility and desperation the Vaudeville performer pressing whose act has grown stale. They just don’t Sieg Heil like they used to.