I’m covering the GOP convention for the Globe and Mail and another outlet, so expect a sequel to this horror story later this month. On last night’s “Make America Work Again” fiasco:
On July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was formally nominated as the Republican candidate for president of the United States. It was a moment that would live in infamy, if infamy, in 2016, weren’t fully booked.
Mr. Trump did not appear in person at his Cleveland coronation, a night his team had christened “Make America Work Again.” Skyping in briefly to inquire if the audience was having fun – which, judging by the sparsely filled room and delegate in-fighting, they were not – he disappeared, leaving the discussion of the U.S. economy to a lineup consisting largely of Trump business employees, a Trump reality show contestant, Mr. Trump’s rejected VP picks, and Mr. Trump’s children.
Mr. Trump’s lack of interest in his own party may foreshadow his style of governing: leave the real work to lackeys and heirs while soaking up the glory from a distance. The second convention night was about Mr. Trump, the brand, but rarely about Mr. Trump, the political leader – and it was certainly not about “making America work again” or how Mr. Trump would make that happen.
During the primaries, Mr. Trump triumphed by capitalizing on and conveying how the post-recession U.S. economy feels to the average U.S. worker: the pain of losing middle-class stability, and the fury that this loss is glossed over with proclamations of “recovery” and misleading statistics of low unemployment. Mr. Trump channelled his supporters’ economic frustration into bigoted attacks on undeserving targets – in particular, immigrants – but the despair he tapped into was real.
That understanding of America’s economic crisis was absent at the GOP convention, replaced by a mixture of platitudes and partisan fury. If Mr. Trump’s America has a growth industry, it is rage.