By Jonathan Cristol
The Republican National Convention (RNC) is more than half over and it has been full of excitement. Presidential also-ran, Ben Carson claimed that Hillary Clinton, “acknowledges Lucifer,” while Presidential also-ran, and Donald Trump intern, Chris Christie linked Hillary Clinton to Boko Haram. Presidential also-ran, Ted Cruz gave a rousing speech in which he called on people to “vote your conscience” (re: not Trump). This was immediately followed by presidential also-ran Newt Gingrich, who said Cruz actually meant people should vote for Trump. Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham appeared to give the Nazi salute to a large image of a similarly-posed Trump. Trump’s wife Melania plagiarised her speech from Michelle Obama.
Next week, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will take place in Philadelphia. It is safe to say that there will be no such excitement. Hillary Clinton will be formally nominated as the Democratic candidate for President and everything will run smoothly and according-to-plan.
Her only serious rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has already endorsed her. Other than some minor, ultimately meaningless, squabbles over language in the party platform, the convention will be the typical coronation ceremony. There will be protests because there are always protests, but it is illegal to openly display guns in Pennsylvania and there will not be two groups gearing up for a face-off.
Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama will both appear on 25 July for the Convention. The theme will be, “United Together”. On 26 July, the Democratic Convention will feature speeches from the parents of individuals killed in well-documented instances of police brutality. By contrast, the RNC began with speeches from parents of people murdered by illegal immigrants. Also on 26 July, former president Bill Clinton will give the Convention’s keynote address. The other major speakers will be Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Wednesday, and Chelsea and Hillary Clinton on Thursday.
The DNC will be a star-studded affair, loaded with celebrity speakers and attendees. America Ferrera, Lena Dunham and Chloe Grace Moritz will all appear on the main stage. Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Eva Longoria, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and other major stars will appear at DNC events. In contrast, the Republican Convention featured Celebrity Wife Swap contestant Antonio Sabato Jr. and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 star Scott Baio.
The DNC won’t just be celebrities and top politicians. It will also feature dozens of regular Americans who are affected by national policies. There will be a 9/11 first responder, the wife of a soldier killed in Iraq, an illegal immigrant and her US citizen daughter, survivors of gun violence, school teachers, and people helped by Hillary Clinton when she was a senator.
Foreign Policy Proposals
Unlike the RNC, at which no domestic policies beyond “Build the Wall!” have been discussed, the DNC speakers may provide actual policy proposals.
Increasing the minimum wage, how to provide job training for unemployed workers, and the growing divide between the nation’s police forces and the people whom they are sworn to protect, are a few on the agenda.
I’d suspect that topics like NATO, Russia, the failed coup in Turkey, China, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ISIS, and the “Iran Deal,” will also be discussed in more detail. At the RNC, the only speaker with foreign policy experience, former Defense Intelligence chief Michael Flynn, mostly just yelled chants of “U.S.A. U.S.A.!”. Trump’s shoeshine-boy Chris Christie just listed foreign policy problems interspersed with chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
This election is between two candidates. One, who is uninspiring and predictable, but knowledgeable. And another, who is a totally unpredictable, crazy, narcissistic, ignorant, demagogue.
These conventions are a harbinger of what to expect from a Clinton or Trump presidency. The RNC is like any reality television show. It’s fun to watch, but you don’t want the television reality to become your actual reality. The DNC is like a children’s television show. Despite being uninteresting, it is ultimately educational.
Dr. Jonathan Cristol (USA) is a Fellow at the World Policy Institute (WPI) in New York City.