Trump: it’s me or anarchy
‘‘The Democrat Party . . . spends so much time tearing down our country.’’
Facing a nation fraught with racial turmoil and a deadly pandemic, US President Donald Trump accepted his party’s renomination on a massive White House South Lawn stage yesterday, boasting of helping African-Americans and defying his own administration’s pandemic guidelines to address a tightly packed, largely maskless crowd.
As troubles churned outside the gates, Trump painted an optimistic vision of America’s future, including an eventual triumph over the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 175,000 people, left millions unemployed and rewritten the rules of society.
But that brighter horizon could only be secured, Trump asserted, if he defeated Democrat candidate Joe Biden.
Trailing Biden in opinion polls, he attacked the former vicepresident’s record and even questioned his love of America.
‘‘We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years,’’ Trump said.
Presenting himself as the last barrier protecting an American way of life under siege from radical forces, Trump declared: ‘‘Joe Biden and his party repeatedly assailed America as a land of racial, economic, and social injustice. So tonight, I ask you a very simple question: how can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?’’
‘‘In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free, just, and exceptional nation on earth. Instead, they see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins.’’
As his speech brought the scaled-back Republican National Convention to a close, Trump’s incendiary rhetoric risked inflaming a divided nation reeling from a series of calamities, including the pandemic, a major hurricane that has slammed into the Gulf Coast, and nights of racial unrest and violence after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot by a white Wisconsin police officer.
He was introduced by his daughter Ivanka, an influential White House adviser, who portrayed the famously bombastic Trump as someone who shaken up Washington with little record for norms or niceties.
‘‘Dad, people attack you for being unconventional, but I love you for being real. And I respect you for being effective,’’ she said.
Despite tradition and regulation to not use the White House for purely political events, a huge stage was set up outside the executive mansion, flanked by dozens of American flags and two big video screens.
Trump has repeatedly, if not always effectively, tried to portray Biden – who is considered a moderate Democrat – as a tool of the radical left and fringe forces he has claimed don’t love their country.
The Republicans claim that the violence that has erupted in Kenosha and some other American cities is to be blamed on Democratic governors and mayors.
‘‘The problem we have right now is that we are in Donald Trump’s America,’’ Biden told MSNBC. ‘‘He views this as a political benefit to him. He is rooting for more violence, not less. He is pouring gasoline on the fire.’’
Some demonstrations took to Washington’s streets ahead of a march planned for the next day. New fencing set up along the White House perimeter kept the protesters at bay, but some of their shouts and car horns were clearly audible on the South Lawn, where more than 1500 people he gathered. Protective masks were not required, and Covid-19 tests were not to be administered to everyone.
Most of the convention has been aimed at former Trump supporters or non-voters, and has tried to drive up negative impressions of Biden so that some of his possible backers will not vote. Many of the messages were aimed squarely at seniors and suburban women.
Four years ago, Trump declared in his acceptance speech that ‘‘I alone can fix’’ the nation’s woes, but he has found himself asking voters for another term at the nadir of his presidency, amid a devastating pandemic, crushing unemployment, and real uncertainties about schools and businesses reopening.
Another one million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, in numbers released yesterday. And the US economy shrank at an alarming annual rate of 31.7 per cent during the April-June quarter – the sharpest quarterly drop on record – as it struggled under the weight of the pandemic. –AP