Dispatches From Cleveland: Day 3

Monica Jorge/Sipa via AP Images

Delegates watch as Donald Trump, Jr. speaks at the RNC Tuesday evening. Tuesday July 19, 2016 was the second day of the Republican National Convention in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. 


Citizen Trump

The theme of Night Two of the Republican Convention was “Make America Work Again,” but the jobs that the delegates plainly wished to create were jailers’ –the guys who would “Lock her up.”

The “her,” if you’ve been orbiting Jupiter and have missed the reduction of the Republican Party to a communal hate-fest, was Hillary Clinton. “Lock her up” was the delegates’ shouted refrain in response to New Jersey Governor’s Chris Christie’s “indictment” of Clinton for crimes against America (crimes so horrible, in fact, that they actually didn’t happen).

This is, so far, the “Lock Her Up” convention. Republicans have spent more time vilifying, defaming, and demonizing Clinton (literally demonizing—Ben Carson twice linked her to Lucifer) than they have extolling Donald Trump. Any articulation of a Republican program, meanwhile, has been almost entirely absent. 

There were, to be sure, a few indirect references, if you listened carefully, to economic issues during the night’s proceedings, but they consisted largely of affirming Trump’s sympathy for white blue-collar men. The most effective such presentation came from his son, Donald Trump Jr., who told how his father had his workers teach his boys to handle sheetrock and drive forklifts, and how he’d promoted a onetime blue-collar employee to an executive position. Other speakers reminded viewers of the war on coal and miners waged by President Obama and Clinton, and from pre-Trump Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, there were formulaic attacks on regulations that threw working stiffs out of work. Read More.



In Trump, Conservatism's Old Guard Sees a New Goldwater

To the naked eye, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump would seem to have little in common with the late Senator Barry Goldwater. And given the fact that Goldwater lost the 1964 presidential election to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide, Trump himself might not care for the linkage; after all, there’s nothing Trump hates more than a loser.

But as I’ve talked to the operatives of conservatism’s old guard during the Republican National Convention, the name of the Arizona senator comes up time and again. From his vanquished campaign, the young leaders of what was then called the New Right built today’s conservative coalition. Despite their grand success in delivering Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980, they’ve yet to complete their project: purging establishment Republicans such as the Bushes and the Romneys from the leadership of the GOP. In Trump, they see their chance to finish the job.

So while Trump has only belatedly aligned his political positions with those of the right-wing movement whose leaders prefer the label “conservative,” the movement’s creators are making the case for him—not because they entirely trust him, but because they believe he will get rid of those who have stood in the way of a total right-wing takeover of government. Read More.



Q&A: Liberal and Conservative Campaign-Finance Reformers Unite in Cleveland

Morris Pearl, chair of the group Patriotic Millionaires, and John Pudner, executive director of Take Back Our Republic, took the stage on the “speaker’s platform” set up in Public Square, a few blocks from where the convention was being held at Quicken Loans Arena, and spoke about the need for reducing the influence of money in politics.

Pearl was a managing director at BlackRock, one of the largest investment firms in the world, before turning full-time to campaign-finance reform work two years ago. Pudner spent decades as a Republican campaign strategist, having worked most recently on the campaign of Dave Brat who unseated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, despite being outspent 26 to 1.

Both Pearl and Pudner sat down with The American Prospect in Cleveland to discuss their shared effort to reform the U.S. campaign-finance system. Read More.


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