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We’ve witnessed tonight the spectacle of a Republican billionaire presidential nominee running against forty years of Republican public policy. Most of the applause lines featured the bizarre spectacle of a convention filled with Republicans cheering a leader who attacked their own fiscal, economic, and foreign policies.

trump nomination speech

The Supreme Irony of Trump’s Nomination Speech—Joseph Palermo

Donald Trump criticized the trade policies that hollowed out America’s working middle class. But these deals were a long-term Republican project that progressives and labor unions vehemently opposed. “Centrist” Democrats triangulated against the progressive wing of their party and its labor base to support NAFTA, the WTO, and other trade agreements, but it was the GOP, multinational corporations, and the Chamber of Commerce that pushed these trade policies in the first place. (The heavily Republican U.S. Chamber of Commerce still favors these trade deals.)

Similarly, the budget deficits Trump criticizes were the result of the reckless high-end tax cutting that have been a Republican fetish since Ronald Reagan. And Trump’s promise of more tax cuts and more de-regulation were some of the speech’s biggest applause lines.

The budget deficits Trump criticizes were the result of the reckless high-end tax cutting that have been a Republican fetish since Ronald Reagan. And Trump’s promise of more tax cuts and more de-regulation were some of the speech’s biggest applause lines.

Trump talks about the “violence” directed against police without ever mentioning the crisis in law enforcement that has led to the police killings of unarmed black people in cities across the country.

He talked about Latinos and African Americans being special victims of the failed economy and lamented the discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Yet his “birtherism” and delegitimizing the first black president has already shown African Americans he’s not their friend. He called Mexicans “rapists” and “drug dealers.” And his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ politicians in America (the Republican platform even calls for gay “conversion therapy”).

Trump promises an authoritarian future where “everyone” will be “protected” without acknowledging the Constitutional safeguards that he will have to do away with to get us there. (You would think his NRA-loving Constitutional literalists and libertarians among Republicans might wonder about this claim.) “Is this guy running for president or dictator?” Bernie Sanders tweeted during the speech.

This billionaire huckster even appropriated Bernie Sanders’ rhetoric when he spoke about the “rigged” economic system, but places the blame for this unfairness on an elaborately constructed Straw Person with the words “Hillary Rodham Clinton” stamped on it.

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On foreign policy Trump attacked President Barack Obama for not enforcing his “red line” and going to war against Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and then went on to trash Hillary Rodham Clinton for advocating regime change in Syria against Bashar al-Assad.

Trump condemns the decrepit state of the nation’s infrastructure knowing that his audience will be largely unaware that it was the Republicans who control the Congress who have deliberately held back large infrastructure spending bills as a political tactic to prevent the Obama Administration from benefiting by taking credit for the jobs it would create.

And what does promising to defy “political correctness” really mean? Is it just a retread of the white resentment that courses through American politics? Or is it nostalgia for going back to the “good old days” when white people could openly vent their racism, sexism, and homophobia? Who, exactly, is genuinely aggrieved by “political correctness?” (I think Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was trying to illustrate the overt racism and militarism with her protest during the speech, which was the highlight for me.)

We’ve endured forty years of class warfare where Republicans and their Democratic enablers have enacted policies that victimize tens of millions of working people while enriching the billionaire and millionaire class. Then after those policies create suffering on a massive scale and spread economic insecurity and fear among the broad working class in this country, the Republicans turn on a dime and denounce those same policies as if their political party had nothing to do with them. No wonder Gore Vidal used to call the country “The United States of Amnesia.”

Trump peppered in the usual boilerplate of Reaganomics railing against “regulations” and “taxes,” which has become a kind of balm for the suffering small business sector that is also struggling because consumers have less money in their pockets. He wants to keep the minimum wage at $7.25 – but he didn’t mention that.

Promise the people security, safety, and prosperity, and provide them with ample avenues to vent their resentment of minorities and foreigners, and with the help of a duplicitous corporate media Trump can count on people forgetting all about who brought us the “neoliberal” order of market fundamentalism in the first place.

Trump pretended that the Republicans (even though they’ve controlled the House for 18 of the past 22 years and currently hold both the House and the Senate) bear no responsibility for the declining wages of millions of working Americans or any of the other problems confronting the country.

A pro-business billionaire Republican presidential nominee has positioned himself to run against failed Republican fiscal, social, economic and trade policies. This is evidence that the long-term Republican project is succeeding: They’ve broken the government and the economy to the point where they can now exploit the human misery for political gain.

joseph palermo

Joseph Palermo
Joseph Palermo's Blog