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Column: There is no Republican Party anymore. There is only Trump. The convention proves it

Patricia and Mark McCloskey, who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis, spoke at the RNC on Monday.
Patricia and Mark McCloskey, a couple from St. Louis who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, spoke at the Republican National Convention on Monday.
(Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention )

I’m having a hard time deciding which moment of the Republican National Convention’s opening night was the most craven.

Was it Kimberly Guilfoyle’s over-the-top Evita impersonation?

Donald Trump Jr.’s glassy-eyed invocation of “Beijing Biden”?

The hostage video of the former hostages thanking President Trump for freeing them from countries he then praised?

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Nope, I’m going with the McCloskeys.

The most craven moment, hands down, belonged to the white couple from St. Louis who pointed guns at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters from the frontyard of their palatial home in June, were charged with a felony and have become the new darlings of the pro-gun movement.

The pair, both lawyers, sat in what appeared to be their well-appointed, wood-paneled living room and gave what should go down as one of the most racist appeals in recent American political history.

“You may have seen us, defending our home as a mob of protesters descended on our neighborhood,” said Mark McCloskey.

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“What you saw happen to us,” said Patricia McCloskey, “could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country.”

Quiet neighborhoods? Hmmm, do go on.

“They aren’t satisfied with spreading chaos and violence into our communities,” Patricia continued. “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether, by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into now-thriving suburban neighborhoods.... Your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”

Her paranoia dovetails nicely with Trump’s strategy of using fearmongering on race to try to win back white suburban women who deserted him in 2018.

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In a July tweet addressed to the “Suburban Housewives of America,” he warned that “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

Wow.

::

There was a brief, fleeting moment after the Republicans lost to President Obama in 2012 when the party seemed willing to examine its failings.

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Acknowledging the country’s changing demographics, then-Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus produced a 100-page road map for the party’s survival: “We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities.”

What Priebus and his colleagues failed to predict was the emergence of a demagogue like Trump, who worked tirelessly to create and exploit a backlash to the first Black president and to mine white, working-class grievances (some entirely valid).

As I watched the GOP convention Monday, I saw a party that, instead of embracing the future, has fallen into a time warp. Trump’s America is still in the 1950s, the pinkos are at the door, Blacks and Latinos don’t belong in white suburbs and American exceptionalism is not to be questioned.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida warned about “woke-topians” who would turn the nation into “a horror film, really” and “invite MS-13 to live next door.”

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Sean Parnell, a Republican congressional candidate from Pennsylvania, played the elitism card against Democrats — oh, God, not this again — accusing them of being “the party of hedge-fund managers, Hollywood celebrities, tech moguls and academia — bloated with contempt for middle America.”

GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who dropped her maiden name (Romney) at the request of Trump because he despises her Uncle Mitt, mocked Democrats for not being anachronistic enough.

“Democrats started their convention last week with Eva Longoria, a famous Hollywood actress who played a housewife on TV,” said McDaniel. “Well, I’m actually a real housewife and a mom from Michigan with two wonderful kids in public school who happens to be the only — only the second woman in 164 years to run the Republican Party.” (A “real housewife” who just happens to head a major political party? This is Phyllis Schlafly-level gaslighting.)

In Trump’s time warp, more than 170,000 Americans have not died from a pandemic he badly mismanaged, some 51 million have not filed unemployment claims and each killing of an unarmed Black person by police is an anomaly, not part of a systemic, racist pattern.

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“What happened to George Floyd is a disgrace,” said Trump Jr. “But we cannot lose sight of the fact that our police are American heroes.”

::

There really isn’t a Republican Party anymore.

There is only Trump.

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What better metaphor for that than the announcement last week that the GOP would produce no platform?

What Republicans stand for is whatever Trump blurts out his support for at any given moment. (Hydroxychloroquine, white nationalism, pardons for convicted criminals.)

They are against whatever he is against. (Democrats, Obamacare, immigrants, the post office, science.)

I think Team Trump must be saddened and confused by Joe Biden’s victory as the Democratic nominee, and by his selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. Neither of them is a progressive firebrand, and Trump et al are befuddled about how to run against this pair of relatively moderate Democrats.

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The attacks on Biden and Harris on Monday proved it. They were stolen from the same tired playbook that Republicans used so unsuccessfully against Barack Obama in his two successful presidential campaigns: They are socialists, Marxist revolutionaries who will take away your guns and redistribute your wealth.

As Guilfoyle so loudly put it, “They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live. They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal victim ideology to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.”

Take a chill pill, girl. The dystopian nightmare is already here.

@AbcarianLAT


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