Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the GOP convention last night was a predictable mixture of outright lies and rampant fear mongering designed to appeal to the worst of America’s instincts. Much of the speech was nothing out of the ordinary given the general tone of Republican rhetoric in recent years — but there were a couple of stark differences that had much of the blogosphere up in arms — and rightly so.
It wasn’t Trump’s lies, his bombast or his nastiness — it was dictatorial strongman act that he alone can fix America’s problems, and the bleak fact that his presence in American politics is no longer a joke.
What was once unthinkable is now real, and Trump is officially the Republican nominee for president. This was not the end of the Republican Party as many have claimed — it was its transformation into something completely different.
As Trump delivered his lie-filled, nonsensical stream of paeans to himself read badly off of a teleprompter, the blogosphere reacted in real time, debunking much of the garbage he promised his audience was the unvarnished truth. “Here at our convention, there will be no lies,” said Trump. Of course this was utter, utter bullshit.
After it was done, sane commenters reacted in horror to the spectacle that had more in common with a Nuremberg Rally than a political convention in a modern democracy.
Said our own Bob Cesca:
Of course Trump lied a lot, despite his early declaration that his speech wouldn’t contain any lies — “believe me!” The lies weren’t the most horrifying aspects of the speech. Trump, with way too much ease, expertly dovetailed a laundry list of horror stories with lofty promises about how he plans to fix literally everything, and he did it all by shouting and gesticulating wildly as if he just stepped out of a How To Become A Dictator In Three Easy Movesseminar. It was a textbook performance that included loudness patented by Hitler, who used electronic amplification and feedback to stir his throngs of sycophants into googly-eyed, white-faced frenzies.
This is a very new departure for politics in a liberal democracy. We’ve never heard an appeal from a major party platform to junk traditional democratic norms, and cede power to a new tyrant, whose magical powers will somehow cause almost every problem in the country to disappear. In this election, the very basis of liberal democracy is on the ballot. The fears I expressed last May about the popularity of tyranny in a late-democracy have, I’m afraid, only been fanned by events since.
The speech is entirely about fear, to be somehow vanquished by a single man’s will to power. Its core message is what America was founded to resist. Its success would be an abolition of the core promise of this country for two centuries – that self-government is incompatible with the rule by the whims and prejudices and impulses of a man on a white horse.It can happen here. It is happening here. No election has been more important in my lifetime.
Bret Stephens of the Wall St Journal:
This speech is a relentless, unyielding, humorless, hectoring appeal to fear and loathing.
— Bret Stephens (@BretStephensNYT) July 22, 2016
Jonathan Martin of the New York Times;
Donald J. Trump, formally making the Republican Party a nationalist party
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) July 22, 2016
Ezra Klein at Vox:
And I am, for the first time since I began covering American politics, genuinely afraid.
Donald Trump is not a man who should be president. This is not an ideological judgment. This is not something I would say about Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio. This is not a disagreement over Donald Trump’s tax plan or his climate policies. This is about Trump’s character, his temperament, his impulsiveness, his basic decency.
Back in February, I wrote that Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.
He has had plenty of time to prove me, and everyone else, wrong. But he hasn’t.
Franklin Foer at Slate:
Everything in his speech pointed in the other direction—away from American leadership abroad, away from minorities seeking more respectful treatment in the national conservation.
But the point isn’t really America. The Republican Party is now his, another Trump piece of real estate. It’s easy to imagine how the government would become the same—a blurring of man and state. To save the nation from the brink of doom, he would do what it takes, whatever it takes. That is, after all, the totality of his platform. I am your voice.
Trump reprising Willie Horton, "white hands," Goldwater's "marauders," and Nixon's "law and order" routine all at once.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) July 22, 2016
And Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian:
The result was a speech that was unremittingly bleak, depicting an America that was broke, plagued by crime and besieged by murderous immigrants. You had to return to the days of Richard Nixon – if not George Wallace – to find a message of equivalent pessimism. And this from the party of Ronald Reagan, which learned that winning candidates sell boundless optimism for the future..
This is only the start of it. We have another 4 months of this horror show to make it through, and with no guarantees of a happy ending.
The Republican National Convention was designed to unify the party behind their elected nominee, but it did more than that — it created the conditions for its rebirth as the first fascist party in American history.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.