By Arul Louis
New York, Aug 28 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has officially accepted the Republican Party’s renomination for the November 3 election, while preaching his gospel of America First and casting his Democratic rival Joe Biden as a dangerous radical.
Speaking from the White House South Lawn on Thursday night, Trump appealed to the pride of Americans, saying that Biden and Democrats see the US as a racist country, “a wicked nation that should be punished”, and asked how he could lead with that view.
He associated Biden with the radical wing of the Democratic Party, rekindling the old fears of socialism among some Americans.
“Biden is a trojan horse for socialism. If Joe Biden doesn’t have the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals, and there are many, there are many, many, we see them all the time, it’s incredible, actually, then how is he ever going to stand up for you?”
He said that the safety of Americans would be endangered under Biden citing the recent riots and the rising crime rates in some states.
Trump, who has been criticised for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, defended his performance citing the manufacturing of medical supplies and equipment.
“We will produce a vaccine before the end of the year or even earlier” and defeat the virus and emerge stronger.
Earlier in the day, Kamala Harris, the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, pre-emptively had accused Trump of standing “idly by” while the pandemic raged with “a reckless disregard for the well-being of the American people.
While attacking Biden and the others, Trump did not mention Harris even once in his address.
In a speech that was mostly about domestic issues, Trump did not layout any foreign policy goals, other continuing his economic campaign against China and made no mention of the strategic aspects.
The broad message was about ending China’s economic exploitation and bringing jobs back from there.
In this context he mentioned the firing of the chairman of a US government-owned power conglomerate, Tennessee Valley Authority, for bringing in H1-B workers to replace American employees.
He did not mention the country from where the H1-B workers came from.
He accused Biden of shipping jobs to China and to other “distant lands”.
Trump waded into the cultural wars bringing up the restrictions on conservative expression in universities and elsewhere.
He tried to assume the mantle of Abraham Lincoln who abolished slavery in appealing to African Americans.
With characteristic hyperbole, he claimed: “I say very modestly that I have done more for the African-American community than any President since Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican President.”
His acceptance was met with frenzied chants of “USA, USA” from the audience of about 1,500 people gathered at the White House for the closing session of the four-day convention.
As he spoke, a powerful hurricane that had roared with winds reaching speeds of 240 km per hour was cutting swathe of destruction through three states affecting millions of people.
He asserted that its toll was limited because of the actions taken by his administration and the state governments – which are run by his party.
The Republican National Convention held mostly online as a hybrid of live and pre-recorded segment was a contrast to the Democratic meeting.
The Democrats prominently featured showbiz people as emcees and popular musical interludes by entertainers but the Republicans stayed away from glamour, except for fireworks spelling 2020 at the end of the convention and tenor Charles Macchio serenading with classical and patriotic songs from a balcony.
Trump loomed large over the convention, whether it was in the paens to him that dominate every speech, or in the video montages that ranged from sports to government housing for the poor.
In the nearly four years since winning the election, he has overwhelmed party and virtually all the Republican establishment leaders like former President George W. Bush were kept away – or stayed away – from the convention.
“His tweets can feel unfiltered,” conceded Trump’s daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, speaking of his unorthodox ways that helped him seal his hold on the party. But he delivers on promises, she said introducing him.
Like Trump many, speakers focused on the recent deterioration of the law and order.
The situation in many cities, blaming the radicals in the Democratic Party who they said have not been confronted by the leadership.
Ann Dorn, the widow of retired African-American police captain David Dorn who was shot dead in June by looters who spun off from the anti-police anti-racism protests while he was trying to protect a pawn shop, said the riots affected the community’s members most.
In a statement anticipating that line of attack, Biden said that “when Donald Trump says tonight you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America, look around and ask yourself: How safe do you feel in Donald Trump’s America?”
He said the riots were taking place while Trump was President and listed issues like healthcare which, he asserted, put people at risk.
Harris said: “We must always defend peaceful protests and peaceful protesters. We should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence, including the shooter who was arrested for murder. And make no mistake, we will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice.”
From strivers like Housing Secretary Ben Carson to Alice Johnson, a non-violent drug first time offender whose life sentence was commuted by Trump, a spectrum of African-Americans countered the descriptions of the President as a racist.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)