Will Donald Trump have Hillary Clinton arrested if he is elected in November? His base sure wants it.
With loud chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” reverberating through the cavernous arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the delegates displayed for millions of viewers the war cry of the assemblage.
Whenever Trump or Chris Christie or anyone else among the second and third-string speakers on stage called the Democratic Party nominee out for alleged “crimes”, the chant would go up.
It wasn’t easy watching Trump’s speech last night from Ohio. But I forced myself to do it. My housemates all took cover as the convention blared from the living-room widescreen.
The spectacle Trump and his party put on for 4 days culminated in his acceptance speech, one that lasted for 75 minutes, and it had been touted as The Donald’s opportunity to show the nation what he really stood for and why independents – and even Bernie supporters, and “millions of Democrats” should cast their November ballots for him.
It was very surreal watching as the billionaire anti-establishment populist pivoted to become the billionaire law and order candidate.
“I’m the law and order candidate,” Trump announced during his spiel. He promised that on January 20th, 2017 – the day he will take office – that every U.S. law would be enforced. He made it as a threat, with his signature pout and stern visage.
What laws aren’t being enforced now? I wondered to myself.
Oh, yeah, Trump and his base believe the immigration laws aren’t being enforced. So, as he promised to make us all “safe” I wondered if that is the date that the immigration round-ups begin occurring.
Trump even said at one point, that :
Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.
Whoa! “… roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens”? Talk about fear-mongering – this was it. Clearly stated.
Trump offered no specifics of how he was going to make us all safe again – except his threats against Mexican immigrants and Syrians. He will build that border wall, he said – and the chants went up, “Build the wall! build the wall!”
But now we have the law and order candidate making threats and promises.
It appears that Trump is trying to channel Richard Nixon – who, in the 1968 election, cast himself as the law and order guy. The country was going through hell back then, what with the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King, the riots, the cities burning, the students rebelling against the war … It was a lot worse in the year of 1968. This year is often compared to it.
Richard Nixon, the law and order candidate, won against a divided Democratic Party. And he won again in 1972. But we know how all that turned out, don’t we. The Watergate scandal was the tip of the worst criminal behavior by a sitting president. And it drove him from office, the law and order candidate.
Nixon was the worst authoritarian president in modern American history. Trump wants to step in his shoes. Which fits a pattern that Trump has displayed over this past year, so it’s not really surprising.
Of course, the words in the phrase “law and order” are code words for racism and racist policies that are cloaked in the mantle of patriotism – every African-American who has lived through decades of American politics knows that all too well.
Time and time again, Republican presidential candidates – and others – have played the racism card – really the “white racism” card. Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, (remember Willie Norton?) George Bush the elder …
And now with Trump’s white American nationalism, he made it clear when he pledged his support to all law enforcement … presumably against the terrorists and all those roaming criminal Mexican immigrants. He didn’t mention Black Lives Matter – or the controversies erupting around the shooting deaths of Black men by police.
Many politicos of different strips have called Trump or his comments racist. Only some commentators will go further and compare Trump to Hitler and Mussolini – including yours truly. And don’t forget, Trump is a unreconstructed birther – and there’s connections between the Birther movement and neo-fascists.
As he called for law and order, and for making us all safe – and of course, proud, Trump – reading badly from the teleprompter – made all kinds of his typical gyrations with his arms and hands and fists, and his finger pointing. Every now and then, he would stop, and make a comment of the stuff he was reading, like, “yeah, that’s really bad! Really bad!” Meanwhile, Melania Trump sat in the bleachers with a sour expression during the entire speech, having been taken to task over the plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s own speech 8 years earlier.
Trump also announced the end of the era of “political correctness” – to more screams of delight from his base. This is part of his panel of phrases that make up his champion shield of returning the country to a time when much of his base felt more in control. You know, his white base of older, white, working class men for whom the Great Recession hasn’t receded.
He tells them he’ll return the country to a time when “America made stuff”, but also a time when Blacks knew their place, when Mexicans weren’t roaming around and pushing white people out of the lettuce fields, when women weren’t so uppity, and when other nations gave us respect, “that we deserve.”
As he called for “prosperity through law and order”, the hypocrisy simply dripped off the podium and vaporized over the crowd. He was the candidate that denigrated counter-protesters at his rallies and urged violence upon them. “Hit him! Hit him! Throw him out!” he would yell from the podium of the past campaign.
The Donald made a lot of claims, things he called “facts”. Here’s a fact-check on his speech at the Washington Post, you know that liberal media that is filling our kids’ heads with “left-wing propaganda.”
So, here was the anointed one, no longer the “presumptive” Republican nominee, but now the presumptive emperor. He will build up our military. He will force other nations to pay us to protect them. He will destroy ISIS immediately. Somehow. (He once said he would find a new General Patton and let him rip away at ISIS and Syria.)
The presumptive emperor told the convention that the system is rigged. But yet, there he was, having somehow survived the rigged system to claw his way to the top of the heap. He knew the system is rigged, he winked to the crowd.
From the pageantry and the spectacle, the raw, ugly partisanship, the plagiarism, the boos for Ted Cruz, to Donald Trump one night emerging from his silhouette in front of a blue haze, it was undeniably clear that The Cult of the Personality was in full gear. And when he spoke, he had the look of a stern father lecturing his young miscreants.
It was a disaster of a convention if it was to show America that the GOP was united and ready. The base, the base – the base was all they cared about.
What a difference 4 years make. Near the end of Trump’s speech, the crowd began another chant – “Yes you can! Yes you can!” in response to all his pledges and promises. Contrast that with Barack Obama’s famous chant, “Yes we can! Yes we can!” Which is more inclusive?
Trump said he’s the only one who can fix all of America’s problems, the only one. He’s the champion of people, the voice of the people.
He’s the law and order candidate, and you better watch out!