The way strategists are talking about the Republican National Convention to be held in Cleveland this summer, it’s sounding more & more like another Miss Universe contest.
ANNOUNCER: “The ballots are in – the winner is – Donald Trump.”
ANNOUNCER (looking very glum): “Ladies and gentlemen, I must apologize. I got the winner wrong. The winner is…”
They’re talking about ways to pull this off.
Chris Matthew of MSNBC is right on this matter. It would be a disaster – for the Republican Party, for one thing. The party, trying to secure a better candidate, would be seen as disqualifying the actual vote. Not by a few dangling chads, mind you; but by millions of voters being ignored – regarded as children who didn’t know better.
But it’s being called a necessity – to save the party, to save the nation. Quick and easy comparisons are made to the Nazis being voted into power in 1933 Germany. There are the alarming news stories about violence at Trump rallies, where protesters are taken out roughly and rudely.
But anybody who knows history, knows that this comparison fails. The Nazis didn’t wait for dissidents to appear at their rallies. They went out in groups at night on the streets and mugged candidates and their supporters. Opposition flagged. The Nazis won.
Let’s get real – Trump has some real oafs among his supporters (like one of the armed occupants of the National Parks building in Nevada who was just arrested). But he isn’t employing strong-arm tactics other than a show of toughness against protesters at his rallies (“Get them out! Get them out of here!”)
The protesters all seem the same – young. Furthermore, they seem like amateurs. One wonders whether they’re getting advice from older, experienced voices. Their interruptions at Trump rallies only rile up Trump supporters all the more firmly.
The protesters doubtlessly feel good – they feel heroic – but that’s not the purpose of a protest. The purpose of participating in an action is not self-aggrandizement but to change people’s minds.
Screaming isn’t doing it. Bernie Sanders has most often made this point – for example, on gun-control. Screaming at each other isn’t getting anything done.
To this belief, Bernie Sanders went to Liberty University – a non-religious socialist talking to fundamentalists – knowing full well that he was not in friendly territory, but he thought it important still to have a civil exchange of ideas.
That’s why the Trump protesters are merely contributing to making everything all the messier. Democracy can be very untidy – rude, ignorant, demagogic…Trump and his followers have become the model for how bad it can get, not to mention the televised debates with candidates yelling over each other.
How many of us wish there could be candidates the quality of articulate, brilliant Adlai Stevenson? Maybe some day.
But it seems to me that the messiness of the whole election season begins at the beginning – with over a dozen candidates declaring. Really now! How many had an inkling of winning the party’s nomination, let alone a general election? The candidates like Marco Rubio – who hasn’t even finished his first term in the Senate but thinks he can be President – keep making comparisons with john F. Kennedy. Kennedy was a first-term Senator when he ran for the presidency. But need we be reminded again and again from one election to another – “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
If the Republican Party elders wanted to do something for the party, they would have begun before the campaigns even began – with party elders trying to talk sense to long shots like Rubio, Hutchinson, Santorum, Cruz…all too inexperienced or too far to the right to be realistic options for a national election. Candidates like these merely crowd the field and divide the vote and turn debates into evidence of their desperation.
Compare the Democratic televised debates – with only two candidates – as against the Republican debates with a dozen or more candidates like newly hatched birds craning for the worm.
Trump was simply the best at it. And by now he’s feasting. But eventually, it will come down to calmness and the composure of ideas – when at last each party is down to its nominee – and the debating goes one-on-one.