Republicans Deliver Head-Spinningly Conflicting Messages
Here are our main takeaways so far from the Republican National Convention thus far:
- President Trump alone can fix all the problems caused by President Trump.
- President Trump is a human being: We mean it. Really! And then the first headline out from the Washington Post: “Pence and other White House aides painted a picture of a Trump we don’t see”. Really? That’s how we now measure the success of a leader? By what sycophants say about him? Not the behavior we witness plainly every day?
- “Unemployment reached historic lows especially for black Americans”, says Presidential son Eric Trump et. al. So it’d be nice if everybody let up a little on the systemic racism and police misconduct thing. Because Trump’s already delivered a “cure”.
- “With Donald Trump, you always know exactly who is in charge. Because the answer…is you”, says former Ambassador to Germany and acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell. Right. Because as the President’s response to COVID-19 has shown us, we’re all on our own.
- “The hard truth is you will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America”, says Vice President Mike Pence. Based entirely on events right now, in Trump’s America. Placing 100% of the blame on Democratic mayors and governors when his boss is the one setting the tone. “Let’s make America great again. Again”, concludes Pence.
So let’s drill down on the Biden thing a bit, because Trump’s folks are also relentlessly sending very mixed messages about the Democratic nominee:
- Joe Biden is and will always be an inconsequential milquetoast who is incapable of doing anything for this country.
- Joe Biden is a super villain who in league with other super villains will do so many diabolical and destructive things he will render the United States unrecognizable.
Donald Trump Jr.’s speech was a prime example of this. In it, he says that Joe Biden’s “radical left wing policies” would “crush the working man and woman.” But then, in describing Biden as the Loch Ness Monster (for some reason), he asserts Biden more frequently than not “disappears and doesn’t do much.”
- Which is it?
- How do they think they can get away with it?
Because we don’t think this is a mistake, or a sign of confusion within the Trump campaign. We think this is deliberate. An attempt to appeal to two different sets of voters simultaneously. And the fact that the messages are almost completely opposite doesn’t matter.
Because the Trump supporters who Republicans want to fire up so they’ll go vote for Trump will respond to the part of the message about Joe Biden being an evil force that won’t be stopped until he destroys America. And once they believe that, the part about him doing nothing disappears. It becomes invisible.
The other people Trump is trying to appeal to: undecided voters and voters who aren’t that excited about Biden, will conversely only recognize the message that he won’t accomplish what they’d like to see. And in this case, that message could help persuade them it isn’t worth voting at all. And if convinced of that, then the opposite charge: that Biden’s intent on so much change he’d forge a socialist, cancel culture utopia, is also cast aside, and disappears.
We do continue to be amazed at how many of our Bernie Sanders supporting friends do not support Bernie Sanders’ support of Biden. Even though it’s far more full-throated and substantive than Sanders’ support of Hillary Clinton ever was.
As absurd as it seems, the Trump campaign strategy of presenting two “truths” about Biden that are directly in conflict (not at all a threat/huge threat) could actually work.
The part about Trump actually being a person, we’re sure he is. But empathic? Not so much. Because even if headlines scream it today, Trump will invariably betray himself before long with typically rancid behavior. As Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump reminded us (recounting the advice of her 7th grade teacher): “believe none of what you hear, half of what you read, and only what you’re there to witness firsthand”.
These very mixed messages delivered all at once without blinking, is a realization and exploitation of just how deep the divide in this country has become: where you can — in effect — insist to people it’s day and night at the same time, and they will not see it as a contradiction, because some believe it can always only be day, and some believe it can only be night. So deep the allegiances run, and so deeply have people come (with encouragement) to despise the “other”.