Thursday, July 21, 2016
Trump's disastrous convention doesn't matter
This year's Republican convention has been a mess. A delightfully anarchistic mess for those of us who do not wish him well, but a mess nonetheless. Although he is unchallenged as the Republican nominee, he still faced a floor challenge to his candidacy. In previous conventions - and you have to go back to 1976 for this - you at least had to have another candidate to rally round, but not this time.
Donald's wife gave a speech that had significant elements plagiarised from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech, which gave us the excellent spectacle of hardened Trumpites loudly applauding the sentiments of the current First Lady.
The principal speakers at the convention have all shown clear signs of madness. Rudy Giuliani, once a respected New York mayor, tried to be Donald Trump on acid. Chris Christie, once a governor who briefly looked as if he could reach across partisan divides, played his role as chief witch-hunter (prosecuting chief witch Hillary Clinton) to a perfection that would have been admired in Salem back in the day.
Only Ted Cruz - Ted Cruz!! - has emerged with any credit from this nonsense, and he did so by adding to the fiasco. Unlike Marco Rubio - who prostrated himself on video before the Donald - Cruz used his convention speaking slot to basically stab Trump in the front. He clearly loved doing it. I think Cruz is in many respects a repulsive politician, probably in league with the sulphur burners, but he did this bit very well.
Yet despite it all, it probably doesn't matter. The Telegraph's Tim Stanley makes a good case for suggesting that the conservative Cruz has fatally holed the Trump candidacy, but I'm not so sure. Trump has succeeded on the back of a lamentable campaign that would have sunk anyone else. But that is rather the point of Trump. The media classes and the liberals and all those who hate him have rejoiced in a hopeless, divided convention.
Trump's supporters won't have heard any of that. All they want to see and hear is their man telling them that all the ills of the world, all of their own poverty and economic dislocation, is down to dastardly forces and people who can be evicted from American society. He'll tell them that again and they'll lap it up. He won't lose any of that support on the basis of a lamentable convention week.
Liberal democracy is in crisis at the moment because it turns out that it has failed to gain the support of significant numbers of left-behind voters. In America, Trump has those people. If it turns out there are actually more of them than there are of the many different groups Trump offends, then he's on course for the White House. His convention plays no role in that calculation.