The so-called mainstream media (I’ve seen some very weird places abbreviate that to MSM)(which is more a Jerry Falwell thing, but I digress) is covering the most recent aspects of the RNC conference as if our democracy depended upon it, which it does, but we’ll get there. So, first of all, I should admit that I didn’t really watch the RNC meetings because I’m all about self-care, and I can’t stand 950-decibel audio assaults unless Led Zeppelin is involved. That doesn’t disqualify me from commenting upon it — a ton of people have cashed in on cherry-picking select lines from the Bible without actually finishing the passage (let alone attempting historical context), including the aforementioned J. Falwell (true story, “unjust scales,” or, “unfair scales” (depending on which translation you use) is mentioned exactly as many times in the Old Testament as homosexuality)(but you can’t really make fast, easy money by telling people that Weight Watchers are doing Satan’s work on Earth). And, I will briefly discuss the elephant in the room; Don Jr’s weird, cocaine-addled speech, but not as much as you’d think (it’s been well-covered by many late-night comedians). First of all, sit down, make sure your boss isn’t looking because…

You can smell the smug, pseudo-self-righteousness through your screen, can’t you?

Behold, a man who felt compelled to introduce himself during his own time slot, despite being a fixture of news outlets for the past few years. I’d make jokes about drug usage, except, as someone who spent over a year doing extraordinarily dangerous, intravenous drugs (the less-dramatically-inclined would describe that as, “experimental chemo;” but that lack of descriptive imagination has no place on the national stage at the moment), it would be demeaning to other drug users, who have to do one or two things correct to maintain a habit. Also, if anyone on the Trump Team is looking for cute nicknames that remind us all of George W. Bush, is “Septum Destroyer” already claimed? Because I think there’s some potential.

Again, Don 2.0 and his girlfriend are taking up headlines, but that’s not really what interests me. What does interest (and concern) me is that the GOP, at this point, has lost the initiative, in a military sense. Even though Biden was only everyone’s strong second-choice for a Democratic candidacy, the man has quite effectively, neutered the GOP 2020 policy proposal list with the single choice of a Vice President and some well-timed remarks about how we’re all being killed by a virus and police brutality. 14000 years ago, The Donald claimed that he was going to run on a law and order platform — for all of ten minutes, before he literally gassed a nearby church, and someone pointed out that laws in the US are, nominally, supposed to apply equally to everyone, and maybe the country might be further traumatized by a guy who screams in dog whistle language, “The Gestapo are wonderful people; they’re great friends of mine,” before literally attacking members of the clergy (again, I’m deeply suspicious of religion, but tear gassing clergy members who are in their own church seems like a deeply immoral action). Now, who knows what the GOP stands for? Certainly not them; they literally just said, “Bugger it; it’s happy hour,” and copy-and-pasted the 2016 platform(

That would be bad even if things were exactly the same as they were four years ago, but, magically, like Florida Man, things somehow got weirder and worse. The RNC now says of its platform — I am not making this up — “the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

A lot of superior writers have commented that those are the sort of statements we usually associate with North Korea or the Branch Davidians. I’m here for a slightly different take; early-2000's-era agnostic/atheist speakers who, effectively, turned a distinct lack of religion into a pseudo-religion based on their personalities. That would be troubling enough, but we learned, pretty quickly, that every single one of them had truly awful personalities. Some of you may see where I’m going with this. One of the simultaneous strengths/weaknesses of a movement defined by a common lack of something is that it can easily get twisted into an entirely different, new entity. And that’s why personality politics are dangerous; because personalities (and priorities) change over time. Yes, the GOP are the party of Lincoln and the Democratic Party is the party of the KKK, but that was yesterday. Today, even though they aren’t at diametric opposites, the GOP doesn’t have much in the way of a coherent policy strategy, other than, “Trust me, bro, it’s cool.” This is in pretty stark contrast to McCain’s promise to continue Bush-era policies, and Bush’s policies of expanded war in the Middle East and tax cuts. The Donald is… in favor of tax cuts? Maybe? For a group that doesn’t really need or want them? He’s in favor of law and order, when that means they’re working for him? Quite literally the minute he has to sit down and start analyzing anything, he abandons it to Jared, Ivanka, and whoever his personal legal team is today. In 2016, even though most of us with basic journalism/historical research skills could get an idea of who he was; he certainly wasn’t The Man. He was a rogue candidate operating against the Deep State Establishment! But without the hippies, man. The beauty of that position as a candidate is that it doesn’t require any significant policy proposals, just a flair for drama. We’ve since gotten many years of seeing what Trump actually wants in government, and, so far, it seems that he doesn’t want to be in government.

Biden’s power-move of the month was simply to highlight the fact that Beloved Leader was repeatedly warned by the Ghosts of Presidents Past and numerous advisers in January that the response to COVID had to be nothing less than perfect, and he still botched it; and picking a black woman as a running mate. If there is one thing that scares old, able-bodied, white men, it’s a powerful black woman (and, I will be honest, her line at the DNC that this is a pivot point in history and we will tell our grandchildren what we did right now, gave me goosebumps). That was a fairly obvious, “Nazis have no place at this table” move on his part (and, one could argue, a nod toward several key constituencies that have saved the Democratic Party on more than a few occasions). If someone says, “Fascist racists had their chance, and their time is over,” that’s a fairly unassailable position, both morally and rhetorically. Team Trump is now in this bizarre bind of either having to admit — openly — that they are in favor of racism, classism, and other forms of bigotry that are now killing critical voting blocs in key swing states, or having to come up with a better position. This is where having an amateur politician go up against professionals doesn’t really work, and you can see how the modern GOP is a shadow of what it was 60 years ago. It’s awfully hard to imagine Goldwater or McCarthy scoffing at reports of foreign interference in American elections and continuing with scheduled programming.

The fact that the GOP isn’t running on their traditional perceived strengths of security and economics should give you an idea of how warped the party has become in the last few months. They could play that fear card about COVID and Russian (and Chinese, and Iranian, and North Korean)(and, one assumes at this point, Italian) interference, but that would require them to actually do something. The same goes with overpolicing and killer cops — that seems like something everyone with even a slight libertarian streak could get behind; y’know, “This is what happens when government starts over-meddling in citizen’s lives with unencumbered executive overreach, and we can’t afford a military-industrial complex in every municipality, so we’re dialing it back a bit.” But that would require them to admit a mistake on Nixon’s part, and that’s something Thomas Jefferson had in mind when drafting the Declaration of Independence.

That seems to be the major snag that’s getting the GOP down lately — it’s a party all about the Status Quo, except that has vanished forever, partially because of Beloved Leader’s undue influence. I’m not going to lie; it’s not like the Democratic party is suddenly going to take off and tax Wall Street appropriately, but this week signaled that they’re open to talks about what does and does not work in 2020, which the GOP clearly stated their not interested in until they finish this kilo that they picked up in Peru last week.



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Patrick Koske-McBride

Patrick Koske-McBride


Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”