There are few events in U.S. election politics that offer a more predictable denouement than the National Conventions of the two major parties, given that the presidential and vice-presidential tickets for both are known beforehand. Yet even this low bar of dull certainty was scarcely surpassed by the Republican Party as it reaffirmed its faith in a President who has shredded its ideological moorings and dug his heels in in defending the record of his first term in office, including an impeachment on allegations of abuse of power and obstructing justice. The Convention culminated with Mr. Trump’s address in which he appeared to fall back upon the same lines of political attack that he employed against former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, only this time against Democratic nominee and former Vice-President Joe Biden. In doing so, Mr. Trump conjured up, once again, the spectres of socialism and globalisation that threatened to creep upon the U.S. economy should Mr. Biden prevail in the 2020 election, warning that the latter was the “destroyer of America’s jobs… [who] took the donations of blue-collar workers… [but] voted to ship their jobs to China and many other distant lands”. It is unlikely that many among the party faithful who thronged to the Convention questioned his basic premise regarding the danger posed by the Democratic Party to the economy: that there are jobs aplenty and the pandemic is a thing of the past. Nothing could undermine that assertion more than the fact that unemployment rates are still high, and that during the time of the Convention, more than 3,600 people succumbed to COVID-19 in the U.S.
As disturbing as the false claims made about the economy and the pandemic were, more deleterious for the future of U.S. societal harmony was the strident note that the President struck regarding racial tensions that have flared up across the country following several deaths of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of armed police. Leaving little doubt as to which side of the line he stood on, Mr. Trump said he “condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago and New York”. Little wonder that police brutality of the kind that was inflicted upon Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has continued to foment anger in the streets of that city, and that Mr. Trump’s regular allusions to “mob rule” by “thugs” associated with the Democratic Party is likely costing him what little support he might enjoy with minorities of all hues. When November 3 rolls around, it might take Team Trump more than a vicious attack on mail-in voting to prevent this broad sense of anger in multicultural America from drowning out its political ambitions for a second term.