Sunday, July 24, 2016

The (T)rump Convention

Figured I'd go ahead and link Matt Taibbi's coverage of the Republican Convention for Rolling Stone even though most of y'all have probably read it already.  The other day, I tried to sum it up by saying it looked like an inside joke about nominating conventions designed by ironic hipsters.  Taibbi has a better way of putting it. 
The lineup for the 2016 Republican National Convention to nominate Trump felt like a fallback list of speakers for some ancient UHF telethon, on behalf of a cause like plantar-wart research.
Taibbi's point and mine are slightly different but not irreconcilable. Taibbi's article tells us the RNC was a two-bit sideshow parade of D-list celebrities appearing in place of conspicuously absent establishment figures. My point was, as pathetic as that is, it's also exactly what Trump wanted.

Trump is running an anti-campaign. With almost no national organization to speak of, he has taken the nomination on the strength of the free media and spectacle generated by his own anti-hero cult of personality. For something like that to have worked, "everything we know about politics had to be wrong."  I guess it was.  Having defeated and alienated much of the party's infrastructure, Trump now dominates a previously fringe rump.  The RNC, then, was the rump's convention.

This is why the bored press who descended on Cleveland in search of some authentic excitement didn't find what they were looking for. Everything was decided already. There were no open questions and nothing of any real substance left to determine. Apart from the darker Trump-branded tone, this could only be.. well.. just another nominating convention. Since I'm writing this mostly to just point you over to Taibbi's article, here is how he describes those.
The odd thing is that once upon a time, conventions were a site of fierce debates, not only over the content of the party platform but even the choice of candidates themselves. And this was regarded as the healthy exercise of democracy.

It wasn't until the television era, when conventions became intolerably dull pro-forma infomercials stage-managed for the networks to consume as fake shows of unity, that we started to measure the success of conventions by their lack of activity, debate and new ideas.
Essentially, the Trump Convention was no different.  It was maybe a trashier, cheaper,  and at times I was tempted to think self aware ironic version of that. But it was still very much that.

Maybe we should take the disappointingly.... conventional Trump Convention as a signal that as the 2016 general election begins, things are reverting back to form, generally.  For all the hype, and anxiety of this election not to mention the surprising turn the Republican primary took, it looks like we're headed for a rather anti climactic finish. That is, unless "everything we know about politics" turns out to be wrong again.

But, really,  what are the odds of thst happening?

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