Saturday, August 29, 2020

Race for the White House # 87

66 Days Until Election Day

After weeks like this, I know that I could not possibly cover everything that deserves to be mentioned or express my views as eloquently as I wish I could. It was a tumultuous week in America for reasons completely beyond a major hurricane battering the Gulf Coast or the surprising death of a major motion picture star and cultural icon, who had secretly been battling cancer.

This week saw a President renominated in a way that brazenly violated political norms and likely many laws as well. After all, who can stop him? Besides the voters that is. The week saw another shooting of a black man by a police officer leading to massive unrest and instances of rioting in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. This led to widespread cancellations, on behest of the players, of numerous professional sporting events around the country, fairly unheard of beyond the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attacks.

The left has elevated shooting victim and the criminally charged Jacob Blake to hero status while many on the right seek to focus on anything that could make him look like a dangerous villain. Some on the right have elevated 17 year old wannabe cop and criminally charged Kyle Rittenhouse to cult status while many on the left present him as a "white supremacist monster." The actual facts of both circumstances matter little to overall narrative for tribalists on both sides. It is true though that both Jacob and Kyle are lucky to be alive today, Their lives will probably never be the same again though. Those killed by Rittenhouse, regardless of their pasts or circumstances, can never be regained. It seems obvious that an arrest of Blake was justified, but it is hard to fathom how seven shots to the back in close range can be excused, Maybe it can be proven that technically Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, but he is no hero. A teenager from Illinois had no business crossing state lines and then walking around with a very large gun during a time when these matters should have been handled by actual law enforcement. Maybe he should not be convicted of first degree murder, but considering the end result of his action, some time locked up is likely deserved.

When the history of this crazy year is written, it may very well be said that the last full of August was part of the end for Trump because America had simply had enough of the chaos or that it was the beginning of the "great comeback" in which he was helped by societal backlash and fear over a culture seemingly gone mad. The irony for all of this is that those who want Trump to win have to seemingly hope for fear to prevail. Four years ago, he accepted a nomination describing a country besieged by violence and death. Yes, there were many problems back then. He said he "alone can fix it." Now, four years later, this dark vision of America seems more real than ever before as he tells us that he alone can save us from what he himself has presided over, as the Trump 2020 fireworks light up the sky and an Italian opera singer sings from the balcony of the White House like a scene out of
"The Sopranos", while over a thousand people, mostly maskless, put their very lives on the line as a display of fealty to their leader.

As a NeverTrump conservative who finds actually voting for Joe Biden to be a bridge too far personally, this was an interesting week for me. For the most part, the Republican Convention went off more smoothly than the one four years ago and cannot at least somewhat help the Trump campaign. Last week I praised the production value of the Democrat gathering and I certainly have to do the same this week, as the videos produced for the Republican convention were also very well done and the party managed to make the most out of a very unusual circumstance. Having the final convention is always a plus. I think every political year, except perhaps 1968 and 1980 saw the out of office party pretty freaked out after the incumbent party had their say. I remember in 2012, when I was pretty pumped up after Mitt Romney's convention, only to immediately see the Democrats gather and aggravate me greatly with the cynicism, untruthfulness, and propaganda of their affair. So, I definitely understand how Democrats might feeling this weekend. For the first time perhaps in a while, they are realizing that Trump might actually win. I would still say the dynamics of this campaign favor Biden, but clearly, the incumbent's party is not going down without a fight, and if Democrats do lose this, they will largely have themselves to blame.

It was good for Republicans that Trump did not speak at length on every night of the convention in the keynote position as many feared. He saved it all for Thursday night, when he went on perhaps twice too long in a disjointed speech that was delivered in a low energy way. However, the messaging was clear. Trump and his party had to convince America that Joe Biden and his party could lead to dangerous times. I have to admit that some of those fears are legitimate. The fears are even greater though if soulless person in office remains though and I have stated before how I feel about disgrace vs. danger too. If a message from both final convention speeches can be summed up in a line or so, it was Biden saying he wanted to be an "American President" who would fight for those who did not vote for him as much as those who did vote for him. When it was Trump's turn, he pointed to the White House behind him and said "we are here and they are not."

It is no secret that I agree with Republicans on many issues. Parts of the convention featured speakers who said wonderful things about the country that produced them and who have great promise as leaders themselves such as Nikki Haley and Tim Scott. They all had to stand up there and speak in favor of Trump though and whatever happens from here on out, the world will not forget. Despite what was promised, all of the speeches taped on the flag adorned floor of the auditorium in Washington D.C., appeared to have been taped. As predicted, the attempt to appeal to African-Americans was very heavy. I was maybe somewhat surprised (besides the fact it would be illegal to do so) that Trump actually conducted a naturalization ceremony in prime time as part of the convention and at least one of people (who had no idea they were being used as props) was Muslim. What do Marjorie Taylor Green or Stephen Miller think of that?

The worst speakers of the convention were the two older Trump boys who seem damaged by their upbringings. Then, there was Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Don Jr., (and ex-wife of California's Democrat Governor) who put on a performance in an empty hall that genuinely had me concerned for her mental health. It was frightening just to watch her scream. After that evening, others online chimed in to back up a completely unfounded belief that I first expressed years ago that while I am no expert on the topic, I always sort of feel like Don Jr. is coked up. Another low point was the ridiculous appearance of the gun toting Missouri couple and the Congressional candidate from Utah who grotesquely claimed that the socialists in Congress are in favor or the same ideology that his father fought in World War II No. Complete B.S. There is plenty to oppose about democratic socialism, but that is not what the Nazis were. Not even close.

Since Trump is so bad I wish I could become or merely temporarily join the Democrats in the effort to defeat him. I want that to happen, but I cannot violate my conscience to do so. It is indeed true, as this convention reminded us, that Democrats have become the party of being accepting of abortion all the way up to the ninth month and perhaps even in some cases after birth. I was moved by the speeches of "regular people" who praised the Trump Administration's "right to try" as it relates to medical treatment or the mother of the son with Downs' Syndrome who recalled how she was told to abort her child because of the burden he would be to society and then later how he was nearly shunned by the public school system. Disabled Lives matter too. There was also the remarks of the widow of the recently murdered African-American police captain in St. Louis killed by rioters in the wake of the George Floyd protests. David Dorn's life mattered too and the one he led was likely above and beyond what most of us could strive for. To this day, Democrats and the left remain too quiet, too passive, and too scared to speak out as forcefully as they could against violence and lawlessness. I genuinely believe these things bother Joe Biden on a personal level, the late term abortions included, but he either also believes or has been advised, that he cannot afford to upset the base of his party by being too blunt. We are being told that fear is starting to set in via internal polls and focus groups about how swing voters are coming to view extremists on the left and with that, a "Sister Souljah Moment" may come.

While many attacks made against Biden and his party were justified, others were not, and others were just ridiculous. There were mixed messages galore. I note though that the them of "Sleepy" or senile Joe was not as vocal at the convention. On the one hand though, they wanted us to believe that Joe Biden was around Washington D.C. for 47 years and accomplished nothing, but if he were to become President, he would suddenly be a dangerous, immovable force hellbent on establishing socialism.

We were told over and over again how Biden will not be tough on crime and is too afraid of Black Lives Matter groups to support "law and order" while at the same we were subjected to speeches by those such as the politically promising young black Attorney General of Kentucky, who attacked Biden for the 1994 crime bill and how it caused African-Americans to be imprisoned. So, is Joe afraid to lock up black people or is he locking up too many black people? It cannot be both. I just remember firsthand that the Republicans who fought against the crime bill that year believed it did not go far enough.

Also, how can Trump claim that he is the only one willing to take on terrorists in order to protect America, while constantly bragging that he has kept us out of "endless wars" in the Middle East. Those wars against terrorists will be "endless", provided we do not surrender. The enemies have yet to do so and thus we might as well win these wars, however long they take, in the name of protecting the United States of America. Again, a complete and total mixed message. Those on the right who cheer are willing to throw away all tenants of modern day conservatism and national defense.

Party platforms have come to mean little in recent decades, but this time, the GOP did not even adopt a platform. It was just proclaimed that if Trump is for something, the party is for it and if he is against it, they are against it. That is far less of a political party and far more of a cult. One day, sooner or later, the Republican Party will find itself under new leadership again. Time will tell if these new standards will be tossed away or if they will become worse. I just know that if the next President who is a Democrat wants to use the White House as an actual political rallying ground, complete with signage, those who showed up for Trump's event will have no ground to complain. Yes, Trump is changing Washington, but not for the better.

In the grand scheme of things, Joe Biden may not be the leader of his party for a very long time, but technically speaking, he is now the leader. Those who want to see Trump politically kicked to the curb in November are starting to feel less good about the "chillin in the basement" strategy and want to see him out there, however possible, in front of crowds and rallying up support. The polls may tighten, but I still think Biden is ahead. Every riot and every looting could eat into that though. Joe Biden is right to speak out as an ally of the African-Americans in our country who are experiencing pain and is right to want to demand policing reform and accountability. Every call though to "defund the police" or the tearing down of non-Confederate statues by an angry mob plays right into the maniacal hands of Donald Trump. Those who want to see him lose to Biden need to make sure their candidate can feel it is safe enough to speak actual truth to power on behalf of all the nation.


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