Doom and gloom: Trump bets big on fear at the Republican Convention

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Donald Trump has his moment in the sun in Cleveland last week.

Wikimedia commons user MontanaIsForMe Donald Trump has his moment in the sun in Cleveland last week. Wikimedia commons user MontanaIsForMe

First off, before we dive into the current parade of political lunacy, we would like to pause for one moment and express our gratitude to Donald J. Trump, who has made this the single most entertaining political season that most pundits can remember. Of course, we should also make it clear that we fully believe this pumpkin-haired clown will never assume the presidency of the United States, and that the alarming wave of extremism, racism and disturbing nationalism he has unleashed will fade (along with his egomaniacal buffoonery) in the months following the November election.

Is there a chance we are wrong? Of course. But if that’s the case, then we are living in a nation we no longer recognize, and so are determined to remain in a state of absolute denial until the words “President Trump” improbably shift from a ludicrous punchline to a horrifying reality.

In the meantime, we shall continue to treat The Donald’s presidential bid as a pathetic (if dangerous) joke, even as we acknowledge that the economic insecurity and societal discord that have fueled his rise are very real and important problems that will need to be addressed during the coming Clinton administration.

Luckily for us, Trump continues to flail about like a deranged prep-school monster who forgot to take his Ritalin, lashing out in all directions while simultaneously mismanaging every single facet of his campaign. And there is no better illustration of this than the recently concluded, Trump-branded Republican National Convention, which was without a doubt the most gaffe-ridden, hate-filled political event we’ve ever seen. (Then again, we’ve never attended an Ayn Rand Objectivist symposium or a Klan rally, so our experience in these things is limited.)

Veering between boring speeches by rich friends and employees of Trump (billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Trump Winery General Manager Kerry Woolard) and frothing-at-the-mouth indictments of Hillary Clinton (former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump lackey and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie), the convention was notable mostly for how poorly it was managed, which is in and of itself a scathing indictment of Trump’s supposed competence.

The tone was set the very first night when, following a head-scratching warm-up performance by Scott Baio, Trump’s wife, Melania, delivered a poised and practiced speech that contained several sections blatantly lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. But the pinnacle of this cavalcade of incompetence came on the convention’s third night, when Trump’s primary opponent Ted Cruz, who had been given a coveted prime-time speaking slot, refused to mention Trump’s name during his speech, and told the assembled throng to “vote their conscience” in the upcoming election. Parts of the crowd became so enraged by this apostasy that Cruz’s wife Heidi, who was seated near the Virginia delegation, had to be quickly hustled out of the hall by Ken Cuccinelli (a high-profile Cruz supporter who had previously maneuvered to get as many Cruz delegates seated as possible).

By the time Trump’s angry, despair-inducing address finally arrived, it was far too late to win over anyone but the true believers. And true to form, Trump didn’t even try, painting a picture of America so relentlessly bleak that we’re surprised convention-goers didn’t simply file out of the venue and immediately apply for asylum in the far-more-appealing republic of Syria.

And thus the stage was set for this week’s Democratic National Convention, where Hillary Clinton and her newly chosen running mate Tim Kaine (maybe you’ve heard of him?)—along with current cheerleader-in-chief Barack Obama—will undoubtedly conjure a much sunnier and more optimistic vision of this great country of ours.

So stay tuned, folks — this roller coaster ride is really just beginning.

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, twice-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics.

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