Partying Like It’s 1968

Partying Like It’s 1968 July 21, 2016
Nixon and Trump resized
Image credit: Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0.

So far, the Republican National Convention has been going swimmingly–at least for the Democrats. Unless you’ve been on a retreat in the Himalayas, you know that the first day of the convention was capped by a rousing speech by…Michelle Obama. While Melania Trump made history as the only candidate’s spouse exposed for cheating on her First Lady exam, a more serious form of cribbing is the being perpetrated by her husband.

Donald Trump likes to present himself as a new kind of Republican, but he’s styling his campaign on an old one, Richard Nixon’s. The modern GOP worships Ronald Reagan as their patron saint, but the Donald venerates old Tricky Dick. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising for someone whose mentor was the notoriously nasty red-baiter Roy Cohn.

Obviously, we haven’t heard Trump’s acceptance speech yet, but his campaign chairman has given us a sneak preview: Richard Nixon’s 1968 acceptance speech.

If you go back and read, that speech is pretty much on line with a lot of the issues that are going on today.

Oh goody. I can’t wait.

The first day of the convention has been overshadowed by the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal, but we shouldn’t forget the “be afraid, be very afraid” theme of the evening. It was right out of the Nixon playbook. The Trump campaign has even started to use the phrase “the silent majority.”

The only thing we have to fear is everyone else.

Humpty Dumpty--resizedSee also: Humpty Trumpty

If you listened to the speakers on Monday, you would think that Black Lives Matter activists were going around killing police officers right and left, instead of a couple of lone crazies not directly connected to the movement. You would also think that crime had gone through the roof. Yet statistics shows that the crime levels were stable in 2014 and 2015, and are projected to decrease by 5.5%.

Unfortunately for the Trump campaign, his not-so-silent “majority” lives in a country with a far larger percentage of minorities. Indeed, whites are predicted to become a minority in 2043. They already are in my state, California.

And Trump may have a bit of difficulty portraying the recent tragic murders of law enforcement personnel as being equivalent to the riots and Vietnam protests of 1968. For want of a Vietnam equivalent, a speaker even tried to tie the failed coup attempt in Turkey to Hillary Clinton. Apparently, Hillary is the Waldo of international crises, even though she hasn’t been Secretary of State for three years.

Sadly for Trump, there has yet to be an assassination of a single prominent politician.

But the lack of riots, mass protests, and general unrest in the nation isn’t stopping the Donald. Recently, Trump said:

I think what Nixon understood is that when the world is falling apart, people want a strong leader whose highest priority is protecting America first,” Mr. Trump said recently. “The ’60s were bad, really bad. And it’s really bad now. Americans feel like it’s chaos again.

Yet it’s the Republican Party that’s falling apart, and it’s his nominating convention which is in chaos. As a Democrat, it has certainly been fun to watch the incredulity of the convention correspondents’ as they shake their heads at the latest bungles, missed opportunities, and absurdities, stammering as they search for something to say.

Sure, invite the guy whose father you accused of plotting to assassinate JFK, even though he refused to promise he would endorse you. What could go wrong?

The signs all point to a cheery acceptance speech tonight. Though the cheering may be coming from the Clinton camp. From all indications, Trump will make plain that the only thing the American people have to fear is the Donald himself.

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