In 1992, at the GOP national convention, Patrick Buchanan declared, “There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America.”
It was a bone-chilling call to fascism. If you were in the hall in Houston, your hair stood on end. It was a terrifying vision and it backfired: by November, Bill Clinton and Al Gore had won that war. And the rabid forces Buchanan had set loose went into hibernation for 24 years as “regular” Republican and Democratic administrations governed in Washington.
Then came Donald Trump in 2016, who — tapping into those racist, misogynist, xenophobic and authoritarian impulses that had been tamped down all those years — eeked out a win in the Electoral College by the narrowest of margins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, setting loose the screeching, flying monkeys, snarling beasts and poisonous insects that had been stashed away in America’s Pandora’s Box.
Principled conservatives — those who believe in freedom, personal responsibility, free markets, protection of American interests and government by compromise and negotiation – have fled the Republican Party, leaving it hollowed out of ideas and dedicated only to the adoration and preservation of its leader. That is who will rally tonight and throughout the week.
Donald Trump will speak all four nights but not as president. Joe Biden stole that platform from him last week with a remarkable presidential address at the DNC, in which he flipped the narrative, turning himself into the incumbent and Trump into the challenger.
Trump – although he has been in the White House for three-and-a-half years – has been reduced to gripe, grievance and whinge while Biden is laying out purpose, program and possibilities. Trump’s party has literally abandoned is platform, replacing it with a manifesto for the pitchfork brigade that seeks only to crush the liberals, infuriate the news media and exult the loose-screw conspiracies of Qanon.
Trump has proved he will not or – as the malignant narcissist that he is – cannot expand his base of voters. All that is left as a strategy is to reduce the overall vote and the Biden-Harris vote in hopes of turning his 40-45% base into a majority in the Electoral College. Trump cannot add; he can only subtract.
For a full-fledged discussion by your Calbuzzers looking forward to the GOP convention, click here.