BY VERN TURNER
I heard it, but there was a kind of asthmatic rattle in the exhale. Perhaps it was because we weren’t sure we should draw another breath because of the putrid smell, or because we were so choked up with emotion that liquid tears got in the way.
Between the mindless chants of “Lock her up!” and the condemnation of Clinton to a firing squad by some guy who looked like a fugitive from Full Metal Jacket and the partisan wrangling and shouting from competing candidate camps, it was hard to tell what the hell was going on.
Were these collections of stripe-wearing people nominating a candidate, or were they trying to look more unhinged than the other guys?
First, let me get to the show that was either ComicCon or an exercise in how long real people could keep from up-chucking their latest meal. Even the phlegmatic Mitch McConnell looked apoplectic on stage facing all those frothing Trumpites. Said another way: Ya know, I hear rumors. I heard that Mitch went backstage after his speech and puked in the stage manager’s wastebasket. I’m not sayin’ it’s true, but that’s what I hear, believe me!
Then there was Rudy Giuliani’s flame-throwing “speech” … Well, it wasn’t so much a speech as an ejection of demonic forces from his inner hell place. How do these guys do that?
The whole front row of delegates in Cleveland had to keep wiping the foam off of their face masks.
There weren’t too many “pretty people,” except for the Trump children. The program couldn’t have someone so cool and good looking as to upstage the Trumps, could it? Did anyone but me notice how white the RNC delegates were? Moreover, after listening to the speech rhetoric, did anyone but me wonder what women and black people were doing there?
But the final flow of Cuyahoga River sewage came on that final Thursday. The Donald himself summarized the hate, vituperation, disfunction, maladies and fear that are consuming our nation. Man, he nailed everybody not emulating an orangutan.
I had no idea that my country had such a disastrous military, a broken economy, a dangerous environment and was populated by so many people out to kill white people or cops. I knew things were pretty tough and that they haven’t been optimized by the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress, but I had no idea that we were in such bad shape that Russia was our friend.
The cartoon went pretty easy on Hillary only calling her a couple of names. The flaying of the Clinton ghost of presidencies future was left to the hate mongers beginning on the preceding Monday.
The capper came when he, the Orange Lord, declared that “I alone can fix it.” The audience was stunned, but reading their prompt cards dutifully, they cheered lustily. Thing is, this entire four days of animated cels lacked any substance whatsoever. There were no cogent policy points. There were few facts and those things that were stated as facts turned out to be mostly false. It was a continuous stream of hate, fear and ugly all wrapped around Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was cast as the savior. Imagine that, if you can.
Poor Mike Pence. He ended up looking like one of Trump’s caddies at a resort. He had about as much to say, too. Oh, wait. Wasn’t he the guy who signed a law that allowed discrimination in Indiana? Yup. Right in the face of the Federal law outlawing it … A perfect running mate for the puckered orange man.
I think the Doonesbury cartoon strip was most illuminating. The opening frame asked how the viewer liked the GOP Convention. The cels that followed showed couples staring silently, open-mouthed and bug-eyed at their TV screens. The final cel had a character saying something like, “Once you see something like this, it can never be unseen.” No kidding. How about ob-scene.
Thank goodness there were three days between conventions. Otherwise, the emotional lurch from one to the next would have sounded like all the transmission gears in Kansas City clashing at once. The Democrats were not without their drama – as they are wont to have – but it was limited to some minor cat fighting and whining by the presence of Bernie Sanders and his supporters and detractors. The DNC party chairwoman had to go and the snarky staff e-mails that mysteriously appeared right on time for the big show were pretty embarrassing. This discordant stuff continued for a while until Sarah Silverman finally called out the Bernie or Bust crowd to grow up and understand the drill. They were directed to keep their eye on the ball and defeat Trump. The first night’s keynote addresses, happily, were spirited and actually had some policy points for us wonks.
Certainly Trump teed himself up for quite a few swings from everybody. “I alone can fix it” will go down in infamy as the most idiotic statement from the mouth of the Lord God of Crazy. The long list of celebrity and non-celebrity people all made solid points and did NO fear mongering, NO hate-promotion and NO self-aggrandizement. As these things go, this convention was … well … conventional. The party of notorious discord came together to celebrate their nominees, and boy, did they ever.
Great, emotional and factual speeches from just about everyone you know stirred the delegates, and those of us watching at home, to appreciative and emotional highs not seen for years. Michelle Obama once again proved to be one of the most elegant and gracious women this country has ever produced. Her husband, the president, delivered one of the best speeches of his presidency and did the best job of endorsing Hillary Clinton for president of any of the speechmakers. Joe Biden’s stem-winder warmed everyone up for the main events and Tim Kaine introduced himself ably, at least, as a vice-president we could respect. Hillary’s acceptance speech was as it should have been for a president. There was sufficient wonky-ness to go along with the platform planks, the outreach to the Sanders supporters and the flag-waving jingo-ism we used to see more from the Republicans.
The Republicans, meanwhile, were grousing about the lack of flags at the opening of the DNC while trying to wipe the slime off of their faces and striped shirts from their candidate’s mess. The stark contrast between the two shows was never more evident than on that final DNC Thursday when all the analysts, including Steve Schmidt [Republican] and Rachel Maddow [Democrat] could barely find the words to describe how positively they were moved by the Democrats, while being embarrassed and insulted by the Republicans.
One of the analysts opined that the coming campaigns would be the ugliest, nastiest and most vituperative in recent times. It only took until Friday before the Trump campaign started disparaging one of the non-political speakers from the DNC, a Muslim couple who lost their U.S. Army son to the war in Iraq. That disgraceful and stupid attack continued through August first as the Trump campaign tried to blame all their nonsense on Clinton. What else would they do? It’s who and what they are.
It seems plausible that the pundits who actually want a mud-slinging bonanza will get it. The bar is so low for decency, maturity and grace right now that our nation will experience its most embarrassing display of irresponsible hubris, lies and outright character assassination from its presidential candidates for all the world to see. So-called experts are saying they expect a record low voter turnout for this election. That means that anything can happen, even the election of Donald Trump.
From my readings of history, this scenario is yet another frightening parallel to those halcyon days of 1932 in Germany. Nobody, then and there, thought this crazy guy with the funny mustache could win that election either. We all know how well that worked out.
Maybe it would be a good idea for ourselves and the preservation of the republic in which we live for us all to study what and who will be on the ballots and vote. Remember, it’s not just the president we’ll be electing. It will also include over half of the Senate and all 435 members of the House of Representatives.
See, this is a representative government. We don’t really have leaders as much as we have representatives. It’s still a “We the People” thing. When the people don’t vote, they are stuck with what the other guy elects, and democracy doesn’t get to work.
These last eight years are a perfect example of what happens when people don’t vote for their representatives. Gridlock, partisanship and obstructionism prevail. How well do you think that worked out?
Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.