opinion

OPINION: Themes of populism, law and order ran rampant at the Republican National Convention



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President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27 in Washington, D.C. Tribune News Service

Over the course of the past week, some of the most distinguished conservative voices in the country attended the Republican National Convention, which took place from Aug. 24 to Aug. 28. Dozens of speakers backed incumbent President Donald Trump while offering a variety of different talking points about the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration and crime. 

They lacked a solid platform and resorted to pitiful attacks on Democrats throughout the majority of the convention. Republicans lined up behind Trump, both physically and metaphorically, as they continued to pander toward his views. 

“I have done more for the African American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president,” Trump said on the final night of the convention.

The Republican Party has aligned their ideals with the exact policies Trump favors. This resonates with the new, like-minded Republican base composed of die-hard and vocal Trump supporters but fails to reach undecided voters. 

The convention was originally planned to take place in North Carolina, but the state’s governor decided not to lift rules regarding social distancing. Ironically, during the last night of the convention, hundreds gathered in a crowd on the White House lawn to hear Trump deliver his acceptance speech. Masks were not a commonality within the large crowd cheering Trump on, and invitees packed onto the lawn side by side in chairs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was glossed over during the convention until first lady Melania Trump gave a speech on the second night. She directly addressed the negative effect of the pandemic on families and thanked essential workers, including doctors. 

Meanwhile, Trump continued to pat himself on the back by boasting that he “took decisive actions to save lives” by cutting off travel from China. Yet, he never once mentioned his track record of incongruent statements regarding COVID-19, such as hyping up hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment. 

Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Kenosha, Wisconsin protests but failed to bring up the shooting of Jacob Blake. Rather, they explained how the Republican Party would bring about another four years of “law and order.” They painted a grim reality of America under Democratic control, invoking lawlessness and looting if Democrats came to power in the Oval Office.

During the convention, speakers lashed out with vocal attacks against BLM and grouped peaceful protesters together with anarchists and looters.

The party lacked a solid platform for their national convention while launching incongruous attacks on Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The phrase “Trojan horse” was invoked several times when conservative voices chose to describe Biden, stating he will usher in an era of socialism throughout America. When Trump gave his acceptance speech on the final night, he referred to Biden as a “destroyer of American greatness” and said Biden’s name a total of 41 times. 

Speakers instilled fear into their party’s base by describing negative consequences of Democratic rule. This tactic of populism works to appease the solidified base supporters of the GOP, but to undecided voters it might come off as shallow. This is no surprise, as pointing fingers at the opposition and painting bleak visions of the future under Democratic rule has been commonplace over the last four years.

This new wave of populism continues to spread like wildfire, which will only lead to more political polarization and fractionalization among the American people. 

The GOP is a shallow caricature of what it once was, bending a knee toward Trumpism and adopting it as the party’s new line. With the Republican Party doubling down on law and order, the future of the party appears to be more authoritarian in its policies. 

As speakers gave remarks about protests, COVID-19 and immigration, they sought to win over support from the revamped “silent majority.” The 2020 RNC was an overall success in solidifying Trump’s base, yet there was ultimately little value added to convince undecided voters to cast their ballots for the GOP come November.

Kishan Dhulashia (he/him) is a sophomore studying business economics and public policy. He’s currently involved on campus with Indian Student Association as the photography and videography chair.

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