There’s no chance that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate on the Republican ticket, will outshine The Donald. Nor will anyone else who appears this week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Trump moves to the spotlight as a moth to a flame, and pray for anyone who dares to seek a little of that light.
The Republicans will be predictable. They’ll bash President Obama and Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, and they’ll talk with vitriol about how her election would be the end of the country. They’ll talk about how bad the economy is. They’ll blame the president for escalating terrorist attacks. They’ll blast him as anti-police, anti-military and as a coverup artist for the sins of Clinton and her emails when she was his secretary of state.
But the question remains, as it has throughout a campaign in which Trump called his opponents names and called their integrity into question: Just what are the Republicans for? How will they improve the lives of average Americans? What hopes do they have for the future? What is their vision of a better, stronger country? What are their answers to ISIS and other terrorist groups? This remains a fundamental shortcoming of Trump and his allies. They are loaded with criticisms, often vicious, of their political opponents, but their conversation stops there. That’s not good enough.
Trump has built his popularity largely on hate, something that will have negative consequences in the general election. He has bashed Hispanics and advocated mass deportation. He has little support among African-Americans or women.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
As the GOP convention opens, some cornerstones of the party will be absent: Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the last two nominees, Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney. GOP governors are in many cases passing, including Ohio’s John Kasich, once a contender for the nomination. Those open seats are, in fact, an extraordinary story at this convention in Cleveland. Trump is attempting, in effect, to construct a skyscraper without any foundation.
Instead, Trump will have his children and his wife speak, and some predictable business executives and House Speaker Paul Ryan (a reluctant Trumpite) along with former rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who, of course, was dubbed “Lyin’ Ted Cruz” by Trump. There aren’t that many speakers or visitors who’d qualify as “A list” show business, sports or political celebrities, as reported by PBS.
The problem reflects that Trump – who may yet face a challenge from Republicans who fear his candidacy will destroy their party – now steers a party divided, hostage to its extremes and with virtually no sound planks to nail in its platform. Once Trump runs out his string on hatred of Clinton and Obama and grunts out accusations on Benghazi and Clinton’s emails – weary issues that have played out – he has little to talk about.
Can any running mate “balance” Trump? Doubtful. And no Republican resumé matches that of Vice President Joe Biden, who served 36 years in the U.S. Senate, chairing the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees.
That doesn’t matter to the candidate. Donald Trump believes he is so far the superior of all others in American politics that the people will endorse him for coronation, not just inauguration. We shall see if this convention launches him, or sinks him.