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Let’s think about the broader meaning of the recently concluded Republican Party convention. Let’s move past the fact that it was 99.44% pure white. And that not a single actual, specific proposal for addressing any national policy was offered. Let’s ignore the convention speakers’ focus on repeating lies about Hillary Clinton. And their pandering to every possible fear that might garner a vote or two.

Trump Convention: Tennis Balls and Race Music—Tom Hall

Trump Convention: Tennis Balls and Race Music—Tom Hall

Let us consider the good news from the convention. In the best news, I include the plagiarism by Melania Trump and the choice of what Congressman Louis Gohmert called “homo music” over “real” (i.e., country & western) music at every significant moment of the convention.

In lesser good news, I note the revelation that the Republican Party demanded that the Cleveland Police Department ban such horrible, dangerous weapons outside the convention hall as TENNIS BALLS, while insisting that Ohio’s “open carry” firearms law be enforced. Just recall the devastating injuries ISIS and al Qaeda have inflicted all over France with tennis balls.

Let us marvel at what Melania’s plagiarism and the homo music really reveal, both about our society and about any potential Trump administration. Melania Trump, making the most important, most universally covered speech of her entire life, chose to lift lines from the best example of a public figure woman she knows. And that woman turns out to be someone the Republican Party has spent 7½ years reviling, calling ugly, a lesbian, transvestite, Moslem who hates the United States. That is the role model the woman the Republican Party wants to be America’s first queen looks up to.

Yes, this is good news. It just doesn’t matter what the aging, white, old-guard that has controlled the party since Nixon’s “Southern strategy” wants. They are dying off. They wrote a Party Platform that has nothing in it except a litany of what they hate and fear – no dreams for the future, no aspirations for a better country – just protect what we have now, and prevent anyone else from getting any.

Trying to cling to power, the Republican Party will adopt the language of Democrats, Melania promised. Trying to cling to power, the Party of greed and exclusion will adopt progressive policies, Ivanka promised.

They hate the educated black woman who has been First Lady for the past two terms. And they hate the educated white woman who promises to shatter glass ceilings and empower younger women. And who is their standard bearer to oppose the idea of powerful, educated women who demand rights? A college drop out, nude model, who looks to the hated black woman for inspiration.

That was the convention’s opening night. On the final night, Ivanka Trump spoke. She spoke about how her father, if elected, would erase the gender pay gap – so reviled by Democrats and defended by Republicans. Like Melania’s speech, Ivanka’s was confirmation that the old days are just that, old days. Trying to cling to power, the Republican Party will adopt the language of Democrats, Melania promised. Trying to cling to power, the Party of greed and exclusion will adopt progressive policies, Ivanka promised.

And the convention’s music confirmed it. Think back to the early criticism of Elvis and other rockers. It was not just about swiveling hips and overt sexuality. He and other degenerate singers were polluting the minds and corrupting the morals of white children by exposing them to “race music”. There were plenty, probably a majority, of delegates in Cleveland who remember the days when Nat King Cole was not allowed on “decent” radio, even if he could play in movies and night clubs. Plenty who long to return to that “safe” America.

But that “race music” prospered when played by Elvis, and the Stones, and Johnny Cash, and Buddy Holly, and even the Beatles. And civilization didn’t collapse (though the economies of many black artists were destroyed by having their music and their markets co-opted by white artists). Innocent white children survived, graduated from high school, went on to careers or colleges, even as that “race music,” with its poisonous messages of equality, seeped even into the musak pumped onto the factory floor.

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Now, while promoting a Party Platform that demands a return to “traditional values” and to formal discrimination against homosexuals, the Party found that the best music with which to start the convention was from Queen, and its flamBOYant front man Farrokh Bulsara (“Freddy Mercury”). While proclaiming a convention built on lies about minorities and immigrants, the “christian” crowd embraced the voice of a gay singer, from Zanzibar, who’s Zaroastrian religion rests on pursuing truth.

The Party continued, with music from David Bowie, George Harrison, and others who were offended that Republican Party ‘respect for private property’ didn’t extend to asking for permission to co-opt the artistic expression of artists. Most of the music, both canned and played by the on site live band fell outside the acceptable canon for Tea Bag Republicans. These are the folks who presided over the burning of records in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. But now they can’t find anything else acceptable to their marketing efforts. This really is progress.

Melania Trump’s lionizing of Michelle Obama happened during what was clearly the most overtly racist convention in decades. For many convention cycles, our signature image of a Republican convention was of a black delegate standing in the 1964 convention hall while white delegates stubbed out their cigarettes on his suit. But this year, Donald Trump ordered the Party to install signs identifying some elevator banks as “white elevators,” harking back to the glory days of “white” drinking fountains, restaurants, and hotels. The first great joke of the convention was the Party’s claim that there were “red, white & blue” elevator signs, followed by Party officials inability to find any of the red and blue ones, even ones waiting to be hung up.

The 1964 convention, where the black delegate was treated as a human ashtray, nominated the overtly racist Barry Goldwater, only weeks after he had voted against the Civil Rights Bill. Then the same Barry Goldwater would go to the 1972 convention, and on its opening night, say “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” He didn’t give any credit to John Kennedy, thus plagiarizing the line.

donald trump convention

But he did show that despite its darkest impulses, the Republican Party is swept along by the tide of progress. In 1962, the Republican Party said that Kennedy’s words were Stalinism, and (worse) Catholicism run amok. By 1972, the identical words had become a Republican rallying cry. So it should be no surprise that in 2016, Republican Melania Trump is using the words and policies of Michelle Obama to inspire the troops.

Tides roll in and roll out. But they wear down the beaches and the headlands and help the world evolve. The Republican Party fights progress with every breath, every day. And loses a little every moment of every day. Progress is not steady. There are retrenchments. Reagan did away with the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, opening the door to the corporate wave of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Faux Noise.

But progress always triumphs over time. As Samantha Bee reminded us, Roger Ailes wanted the women of Faux Noise to fuck him. And now, it seems, they have.

The Republican Party wants everyone to have and carry guns, to protect themselves and their neighbors. And in Dallas and Baton Rouge black men have taken up that Republican cry. In Cleveland, the New Black Panthers announced their intention to exercise their open carry rights, coordinated with the Cleveland police, to be law abiding.

NOT what the Party meant. Just as they didn’t mean to have their proposed queen tout Michelle Obama as her highest role model. Just as they didn’t want their white, “christian” political parade marching to a gay anthem. But since the Republican Party eschews nuance or thought, they succumb to the reality of social progress.

It is now up to progressives to use the examples from the Republican Party. Remind Tea Bag voters everywhere that a vote for Trump may be a vote for Obama policies, a vote for well armed black men, and raucous “homo music” in everyday life. It is up to progressive activists to remind voters at every down ballot race whom each Republican candidate has pledged fealty to. The Republican convention was probably the best source of progressive campaign material we have had for the entire campaign. It must be exploited to the fullest measure.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall