Day Three: Make America Reactionary Again

Donald Trump’s insurgent campaign has often been compared to that of Barry Goldwater’s far-right run in 1964. The speakers featured on Trump’s “Make America First Again” night would have fit right in at a Republican convention held a generation ago–though there are no records of Goldwater delegates calling for the execution of Lyndon Johnson. Three different Trump advisers have called for Clinton executed or as one phrased it, “put in the firing range.” But hey, “all press is good press” in the eyes of Trump, apparently including reports of plagiarized speeches and banana republic style calls for extrajudicial political murders. 

Politicians peddling anti-choice, anti-immigrant, and anti-gay rhetoric will be prominently featured on Wednesday night. Throw in some political corruption, a bit of state-run media, and some pro-smoking propaganda and tonight will be nearly indistinguishable from the politics of the mid-twentieth century.

Of course, the common thread between each of tonight’s speakers is Donald Trump. His anti-choice position–calling for punishment for the woman–is more extreme, or at least less rhetorically nuanced, than anyone else’s who will take the stage in Cleveland.

Trump has often bragged through the course of the campaign about his history on “the other side“, using money to influence politics in his favor. Trump fully acknowledges his dabbling in political corruption explaining, “You know what? When I need something from them,two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.” Perhaps the only thing shocking about Trump’s admission is that he’d have the gall to invite a speaker who profited from Trump’s influence-purchasing to his convention.  

Tonight’s speakers include:

  • Beneficiary of Trump’s money-for-favors past and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. While investigating Trump University for fraud, a political committee backing Bondi received a $25,000 contribution from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Aside from the obvious conflict of interest, the donation is even more suspect as it came from Trump’s charity. Charities are prohibited from donating to political campaigns under federal law. In a surprise to no one, after receiving such a generous donation from the Trump Foundation, Bondi’s office coincidentally dropped the investigation against Trump University. It pays to play in Trump’s America.  
  • Ted Cruz may be withholding his endorsement of Trump, but the two are nearly identical when it comes to anti-choice extremism, conspiracy theory dalliances, and disdain for undocumented immigrants. In a move that drew the ire of even Senate Republicans, Cruz threatened a government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood. Trump has often dabbled in conspiracy theories he thought politically expedient, including insinuating that Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. But Cruz is no stranger to the tactic, often repeating the false claim that the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear could be a “transgendered leftist activist“.  Cruz also joins Trump in wanting to “build that wall” and often decried President Obama’s deferred deportation of immigrant children as “illegal“. 
  • No throwback night would be complete without former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich once claimed that President Johnson “shattered the Democratic Party” by signing the Civil Rights Act. He accused Al Gore of “pandering to gays” and argued that women couldn’t serve in combat because they have, “biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days.” Not to be outdone in the anti-immigrant arena, Newt once termed Spanish “the language of the ghetto.” Indeed, Trump’s reactionaryWednesday night spectacle wouldn’t be complete without the relic from the past that is New Gingrich. 
Wednesday’s Trump convention theme may nominally be “Make America First Again”, but the slate of speakers reveals the night’s true purpose: attempt to normalize a Republican platform that is the most extreme in generations. With Trump’s coronation last night, the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump–a party that is vehemently anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and drowning in outdated thought, political corruption, and outlandish conspiracy theories.  

A more comprehensive look at the histories of tonight’s speakers is available here.