A Tale of Two Conventions


Heading into the Labor Day weekend with the Democrat and Republican national conventions just ended, the American public will begin paying more attention to electoral politics, as it traditionally does. However, the year 2020 is nothing like years past, and it seems the convention results are more consequential this time.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens: It was the best of Conventions, it was the worst of Conventions.

The latter description applies to the Democratic National Convention, which occurred mostly in cyberspace and on screen due to fears of Covid-19. In an empty convention hall, speakers appeared mostly on screen, reading speeches that were taped ahead of time. There were wall-to-wall celebrities and Democrat officials who spewed hatred toward the current occupant of the White House and multimillionaires who lamented their victimhood for being minority members talking down to the public (people who bothered to tune in to watch) with pontification and empty rhetoric. It was a disastrous convention for the Democrats because their preoccupation with the politics of personal destruction toward President Donald Trump, together with trendy “Elitism” has caused the party to be out of touch and to completely overlook the two crucial issues facing today’s Americans: violent riots in our cities and the dangers caused by China to the USA and the world.

“It was the best of Conventions” can be applied to the RNC, which carried out a skillfully scaled back and hybrid mode of live and virtual sessions, adjusted due to crowd size limits caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In contrast to the DNC, the Republican National Convention emphasized a populist approach which featured everyday Americans from many backgrounds sharing their personal tribulations and triumphs. Some had faced challenging childhoods. Some were victims of recent riots. Others had survived medical crises or financial setbacks or had been freed from unjustly long imprisonment. There were substantial discussions about fair trade and jobs with China, boosting defense while ending needless wars around the globe, rebuilding the economy damaged by the current pandemic, all centered around a common theme: American First. The Trump doctrine of “Populism” and “Economic Nationalism” came through at this convention, which made average Americans feel good about themselves and the GOP.

Joe Biden got no customary post-convention bump in the polls, because the modern Democrat party has changed for the worse, losing its populist base due to its current focus on Elitism and Identity Politics. It has completely lost touch with reality and many of its core constituents.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has realigned the GOP with his brand of Populism and Economic Nationalism in dealing with real people and their problems. Whether in trade or defense, in economic or social issues, America and its people always come first. This new kind of GOP politics appeals to Americans, as shown in several post-convention polling results, with a big bump for the Trump-Pence ticket. Just as Ivanka Trump said, “Washington [DC] did not change Donald Trump; Donald Trump changed Washington.” It appears that many voters will carry this sentiment into the general election this November.

Pham Hieu Liem  

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