Last night I pondered what the Republicans might do to respond to Joe Biden’s acceptance speech last night, particularly his adept strategic move to position himself as a soothing President of all the people, in contrast to Trump’s highly sectarian approach to leadership.
Today, we see the response all across the internet as the Trump campaign continues to dump advertising indiscriminately across channels, oddly deciding to help fund a wide variety of left-leaning websites where the chances of Trump doing anything more than annoying the ad readers is basically nil. The content of these ads is extremely generic — the kind of stuff you might expect to be pulled together without knowing what Biden said last night. It attacks Biden’s years in Washington and basically blames him for everything that has happened in those 47 years.
The additional wrinkle comes from Trump surrogates who are floating the message that the Democratic Convention was all about their hatred of Donald Trump. That’s a very odd message, given that Biden didn’t even mention the President by name last night. But it’s also completely unsurprising — their base believes it, so why not give them what they want?
Which gets back to my point from yesterday — we may have passed the point in America where anyone can be convinced to change their mind about an election based on simple, human communication. We have entirely different sets of data on one side and the other now and completely different frames in which to evaluate that data. To Fox News watchers, anything bad that has happened in the last four years is the result of the Fake News blowing stories out of proportion to make Donald Trump look bad (because we hate him so much, of course) or some ill-defined liberal conspiracy to do something awful, again to make Trump look bad.
Joe Biden decided to make Donald Trump look bad by being himself, a thoroughly decent man of empathy who has felt deep loss and feels completely comfortable helping others. I’m almost surprised Fox News analysts haven’t slammed Joe Biden for living 78 years of decency just to make Donald Trump look bad in this moment. (Remind me to Tweet that line later.)
So, to the question of how will Republicans respond to the Democratic National Convention, that’s easy — they’ll pretend it never happened. They’ll continue to create their own false version of the convention which took up airtime to show lots of dangerous looking young people looting suburban homes screaming “defund the police” while Democratic elected officials made code-word speeches to their sex trafficking/cannibal overlords promising them freedom from harm if elected.
The people who will watch the RNC next week didn’t watch the DNC this week, and vice versa. We will continue to live in alternate realities. Meanwhile, Trump will put on a show that will be basically meaningless because the Trump convention has been running non-stop in our heads for five years now. What’s four more days of it?
Trump will comfort no one but his own, poor, wounded inner child that the bad Democrats keep harassing with their demands that he actually do his job. And he will pretend to have saved us from nuclear war with North Korea, and cut the world’s greatest trade deals, and stopped the Kung Flu before it killed 80 million people. And if you’re inclined to believe that, you’ll walk away angry at non-Trump America for their continued obsession with tearing down this great man.
Persuasion requires open minds and we’re running dangerously short of those in Trump’s America. What’s left is a pure matter of mechanics — getting people to cast ballots and giving the true believers of election fraud conspiracies as little room as possible to carry on their expected and inevitable cries of foul at the outcome.
This is an age of action, not speech. And if it takes courage to vote, it’s time to summon that courage.