NEWS
25/08/2020 10:01 BST | Updated 25/08/2020 10:38 BST

How The Republican Convention Accidentally Highlighted Trump's Failure To Change America

In his inauguration speech, Trump promised to end "American carnage". But on Monday night, Republicans reminded us of how dire things have become since then.

When accepting his new job as the most powerful man on earth, Donald Trump promised his fellow citizens that he would save them from “American carnage”.

In front of an infamously small audience at his 2017 inauguration, the president decried “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities”, “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation” and “the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealised potential”.

He declared: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Nearly four years later, the first night of the much-vaunted Republican National Convention repeatedly highlighted the fact that not only did most of those problems remain, but many had worsened.

Despite being billed as “very optimistic and upbeat”, speaker after speaker listed grievance after grievance and painted a picture of a United States reeling from... well, carnage.

Those taking the stage and speaking to virtual audiences repeatedly laid the blame on Democratic governors, and said a Joe Biden victory in November’s election would only make things worse.

Then they regaled the audience with examples of societal break downs and failures - by listing events that had happened on Trump’s watch.

Mark and Patty McCloskey, two lawyers who were charged with gun offences earlier this year after they pointed guns at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, said: “We’re speaking to you tonight from St Louis, Missouri, where just weeks ago you may have seen us defending our home as a mob of protesters descended on our neighbourhood.

“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighbourhoods around our country.

“Make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the Fox News personality and girlfriend of Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr, gave one of the darkest and most intense speeches of the night, becoming in an instant meme with a bizarre shouting monologue.

She decried “the socialist Biden/Harris future for our country,” and said Democrats have turned California into “a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets and blackouts in homes”.

What she did not mention was the White House’s ineffective and much-criticised plan for a surge of federal law enforcement to deal with such issues.

Guilfoyle continued: “In President Trump’s America, we light things up, we don’t dim them down. We build things up, we don’t burn them down. We kneel in prayer and we stand for our flag!

“They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see, and think, and believe, so they can control how you live”

She added: “This election is a battle for the soul of America. Your choice is clear.”

Trump himself claimed, without evidence, that Democrats were trying to steal the election, despite an ongoing campaign from the president to undermine the US voting system.

And on the topic of coronavirus, Republicans attempted to paint a rosy picture of Trump’s response, despite it being responsible for “millions and millions of American workers... left behind”, closed factories and “poverty in our inner cities” that the president promised to help in 2016.

Instead, a montage of videos praised Trump’s leadership and handling of the pandemic, saying his “historic” actions “saved lives”.

The US currently leads the world with more than 5.7 million confirmed cases and over 177,000 deaths, figures that were unmentioned on Monday night.

Also omitted were Trump’s repeated dismissals of the severity of the virus, how he said it would disappear, his praise of China’s handling of the disease, his push for states to reopen prematurely, his conjecture that injecting disinfectants could be a cure and his inaction as severe testing shortfalls persisted months into the crisis.

In response to the convention’s opening night, Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield, said: “What you heard tonight was a parade of dark and divisive fear-mongering designed to distract from the fact that Donald Trump does not have an affirmative case to make to the American people about why he should be re-elected.”