Donald Trump has officially become the 2016 nominee of the Republican Party for President. And in case you missed it, there’s been a lot that has happened since the convention began last week in Cleveland. The vast majority of the days in the convention included an eclectic bunch of speakers, most rather angry about at least one or two issues in particular. The lineup hit all the major tropes, from national security to trade deals to the current state of the military, starring a more diverse than expected group of speakers, with one of the highlights of the highly anticipated event featuring Ted Cruz refusing to endorse Donald Trump, causing the room to erupt into boos and jeers, until Trump himself had to emerge to literally turn the room’s attention away from Cruz at the stage to Trump as he walked in from the back door. And, of course, Trump was quick to announce afterwards that he wouldn’t want Cruz’s blessings even if he were to endorse him.
The overall tone of the convention was dark. It spoke of a great American past, and focused on how everything today—jobs, security, military, trade deals, race relations—were all falling apart under Obama’s reign, and that Clinton would only prolong this disastrous downfall of America. And the rhetorical tool and fallacy Trump employed throughout his nomination speech was to conflate correlation with causation. And this isn’t to point out that Trump doesn’t understand the distinction, because that is (at least here) irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that it is an effective rhetorical device used to make people implicitly believe things were caused by one thing instead of merely occurring during a mutual span of time. Everything has gone bad since 2008, the rhetoric went, and it just so happens that Obama took office around then. Trump doesn’t even have to say it (read: everything) was President Obama’s fault. Nay, he merely has to state these two statements side-by-side to elicit the desired effect of injecting blame where it may not necessarily belong.
Immigrant fear-mongering, Black Lives Matter anarchism, and American exceptionalism were a few of the key highlights from the addresses throughout last week, with an emphasized focus on our “depleted” military, indicating a desire to bulk up what is already arguably one of the bulkiest and most powerful in the world.
But not all of the events were fear-mongering and sad attempts to pander to Latinos and women, with the earlier failure resulting in grammatically incoherent “Latinos Para Trump” signs, which don’t translate to “Latinos for Trump,” but rather to, “Latinos for the use/benefit of Trump.” One can only imagine that perhaps this was a turn of an honest leaf on behalf of the Trump campaign. And the latter event called “Women Vote Trump” ended up drawing a grand total of 17 people in a convention filled with literally thousands.
There were two, I would say, extraordinarily memorable, and even inspirational moments during the convention. The first of which was when PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel gave a speech that culminated in him announcing in front of thousands of hardline conservatives, “Of course, every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American.” And this sent chills through the audience and spectators as the crowd rose to its feet, cheering and shouting. Of course, oftentimes these sorts of remarks and their reception are seen more as a sort of distancing of these groups from criticisms of homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc., but Thiel made it a point to state that he did disagree with a number of issues in the GOP platform.
The next moment was the highly anticipated speech from Trump’s children, particularly Ivanka who spoke right before her father. Although, the general subject of her speech was, understandably, vouching for her father’s character and ability to serve as president, she spent considerable time talking about childcare, the gender pay wage gap, and paid family leave, and the like. These are largely tenets of not even all, but liberal Democrats. She talked openly about the struggles that mothers in particular face, and how in an evolving economy and society, women make up a significant portion of the workforce and the need to adapt to that change. And people listened to her and cheered for her concern, speaking largely to the fact that when people on the opposite side of the political spectrum try to cast light on these issues, they are swiftly shot down; yet when a fellow conservative and/or Republican can make these claims, they are much more likely to be listened to. And the same could probably be said about liberals and/or Democrats having difficulty listening to and appreciating legitimate concerns posed by those who do not share their political beliefs.
The issue, however, is that despite these issues being talked about openly in circles that generally try to avoid hearing such topics, they are not receptive to the point of acting upon them. It does not appear that the GOP takes LGBTQ+ rights seriously, when their most recently platform still calls for bathroom discrimination, a call to ideal heteronormative marriages, a ban on gay couples adopting children who need homes, and allowing parents to send their children to conversion therapy, a practice known to be psychologically detrimental and highly inefficient.
Despite Ivanka’s plea to focus on family issues, Trump himself has dismissed these ideas through chauvinistic misogyny, failing to apparently see the irony of the situation. When a female reporter asked him about childcare, Trump responded, “It’s a big subject, darling.” And when pressed to elaborate was only able to talk about private companies having daycare, saying all that’s needed is “some blocks and… some swings and toys.” This comes after a 2006 show during which Trump stated bleakly that he refuses to change diapers, and that if he were to come home to an unprepared dinner “[he’d] go through the roof.”
But the height of the RNC wasn’t about childrearing or the liberal gay agenda. It was about frightening people of those who are different from them, namely, Mexicans, Muslims, and immigrants, by highlighting and politicizing tragedies and terror attacks. Trump did this by saying things were only going to get worse and “I alone can fix this,” which many believed to have dictatorship vibes to it. Trump spewed lies about the danger posed by undocumented immigrants, as though they were roaming freely, waiting to attack well-meaning Americans and wrecking havoc upon society, despite the fact that immigrants are actually far less likely to commit crimes or be arrested than those individuals born in America. Donald Trump has tried to paint a picture of Islam waging a war upon America. And while the Islamic State poses very real dangers to society, we must remember that in the US, white extremists have killed more Americans than jihadists since 9/11, and that the vast majority of victims of terrorism, between 82% to 97%, are Muslims themselves.
The Trump campaign is a war against facts, fueled by primitive fear-mongering and heightened sensationalism, one that is waged against science, reality, tolerance, information, and humanism. It is a divisive campaign that has nearly ripped through its own party and has left Americans angrier and more scared than ever before. But so long as individuals remain willing to research for themselves, engage in meaningful discourse, and stick by real American values of appreciating the mosaic of diversity of people and thought, there is no way that an emotionally riled up electorate and their xenophobic orange leader will defeat the millions of well-meaning Americans who won’t buy this salesman’s lousy pitch of unhinged hatred and ignorance.
This article was written by Amar Ojha, founder and writer at dusk magazine.