What can you say about a party that has vanquished its own former leadership, thrown out the rules that guided it to glory in earlier years and has opted to pay reverence to an undisciplined, law-adverse showman who has spat on the policies and principles which have driven its success?
Golden State connections abound but not always in the most favorable light.
After four days of a convention with plenty of props but no platform and hardly a mention of the most respected architect of the modern Republican Party—former president and California governor, Ronald Reagan—speaker after speaker instead used their time mainly to savage the opposition.
The House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the state’s most powerful GOP leader was effusive in his praise of the president saying, “No one has done more to protect and advance [the United States] than President Trump. As Republicans, we are proud to stand with him and to work for you. Together we built the greatest economy the world has ever seen — and we will do it again.”
Heir to the noble political lineage of Abraham Lincoln who saved the union after the only war ever fought between Americans on American soil which led to the abolition of slavery, the incumbent has sparked a different type of war pitting countrymen/women against one another. It will take decades to heal.
In the process a proud party whose ideological roots contributed over two centuries to constructive and generally civil discourse has fallen prey to a cult of personality which has made it practically unrecognizable.
Kellyanne Conway who will be leaving the White House as one of Trump’s most trusted advisors told the convention, “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reins the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.”
This confuses the peaceful protests of many with the reprehensible criminal activities of a small minority.
It has also bred legitimate discomfort among partisans here and throughout the nation who are as eager as citizens of every political stripe for a restoration of orderliness and law over intemperate rhetoric and scare words.
“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” declared Vice President, Mike Pence in accepting his nomination.
Sen. Kamala Harris, his running mate opposite who he will face in just one debate, delivered a blistering counter-punch at the DNC convention that previewed the fireworks yet to come:
“All we needed was a competent president, one who was willing to listen, willing to lead, take responsibility, have a plan, do their job,” said Harris.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, with whom Harris will share the honors along with former first lady Michelle Obama as the three most prominent women Democrats in the nation, suggested that Biden might want to refrain from debating Trump.
“I think that he’ll (Trump) probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency,” cautions Pelosi.
This recommendation was immediately rejected by the Biden team and the candidate himself who appear eager to have the confrontation despite the Democrat’s propensity for occasional verbal stumbles.
The now concluded RNC convention which showcased 1500 mostly unmasked attendees sitting inches apart during a raging pandemic was as notable for some who bypassed it as for those who participated. The mounting death toll about to exceed 180,000 got little mention.
If the GOP plans on keeping the White House it will be doing so without the endorsement of its last designated occupant, George W. Bush, who opted not to attend.
That may have been part payback for President Trump’s decision to skip the funeral of Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, another party legend who had the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike.
The previous GOP nominee before Trump, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney who has declared he will not be supporting Trump was also conspicuously absent along with many other members of the old establishment.
Noticeably, the GOP Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, was relegated to a minor speaking slot and may be in the toughest fight of his career to keep his seat.
None of this comes as much of surprise since Trump made the decision well before he ran to declare open war on the party which just nominated him.
The fact he succeeded so well says volumes about the considerable misgivings of those who have been shunted aside and told they will no longer be asked to carry the party’s banner going forward.
It is little secret that those still remaining in a decimated Administration have little or no prior governmental experience.
Still they been tasked to manage and bring under control a virulent pandemic that is still running free and to restore a modicum of stability to a badly shaken nation where many are in fear of what may come next.
A few of the speakers seemed to relish the chaos with one of California’s own barking, “the best is yet to come.”
Those were the words of Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former San Francisco prosecutor briefly married to California’s current governor now turned Trump acolyte and girlfriend of Donald Trump, Jr. Her maniacal speech gave a reasonably sound imitation of someone gone mad!
In a tribute to her native state, Guilfoyle desecrated it in ear-splitting decibels as a place of “discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets and blackouts in homes.”
Such comments will not be lowering temperatures as the race heats up with neither side capable as yet of forecasting the outcome.
What is clear is a split-screen of two distinctly contrasting versions and visions of what is best for the nation. Neither convention was likely to have changed many minds. The dye was probably cast the moment Trump took power and positions have only hardened.
However, both camps are in agreement about one thing: This could be the most significant election in the nation’s history.