As I mentioned in two previous blog posts, Political Bullying and Trump This, I have an interest in politics. This keen interest in politics is what motivates me to check out what is happening south of the border. I frequently tune into CNN to get updates on the United States election campaign despite my wife’s protests. As I watched some of the Republican and Democratic Party’s national conventions last month, I began to wonder if I was reading a fiction novel. For me a good novel is gripping to read, keeps you interested to the point where you don’t want to put it down and is one that contains a string of bizarre and unpredictable events. Both national conventions had all these elements. What is happening in the US presidential campaign has the makings of a good fiction novel. Allow me to explain what I mean.
First to have their convention were the Republicans. On the Republican National Convention’s opening night, Melania Trump gave a speech which closely followed a portion of Michelle Obama’s address to the Democratic National Convention in 2008. (see CNN story on Melania Trump speech). Trump’s campaign people initially claimed the speech was not plagiarized and blamed the storm on media bias and on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Then Trump’s people largely blamed staffers and not Melania Trump. When Mr. Trump’s rival, Ted Cruz,spoke he was booed off the stage and his wife had to be protected by security as she was leaving the convention centre. Must be one of those twists in the plot since I doubt any one predicted that.
The Democrat National Convention was not immune to controversy either. The Atlantic’s article on DNC Hack says Democratic Party computers were hacked and the culprits released the hacked emails deepening divisions within the party days before the convention began. This resulted in Amy Dacey, the highest-ranking official at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to resign because of the leaked emails. These emails are allegedly between a handful of DNC officials having conversations about Bernie Sanders’ campaign discussing ways of undermining him. As if that was not enough, then it was suggested that Russian intelligence agencies spied on the Democratic Party sharing the hacked documents with WikiLeaks in order to intervene in the U.S. election. Is this for real? Sounds like a fiction novel to me.
Now this seeming fictional story gets better. On July 27, Donald Trump encouraged Russia to commit a cyber crime against Hillary Clinton, saying he hoped they could recover some of Clinton’s deleted emails. (see Trump calls Russia to hack). Trump’s exact words at a press conference in Doral, Florida, were, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Mr. Trump the next day claimed he was using sarcasm. Unbelievable! You can’t make this stuff up.Honestly, I’m not talking about a book I’ve just read. This is reality.
Have you ever heard of long time Republicans speaking in support of the rival party’s candidate? Well it happened at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Doug Elmets, a Reagan Speechwriter and longtime Republican says he will vote for a Democrat for the first time and talked about his uneasiness with Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying, “I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan.” Another Republican, Michael Bloomberg endorsed Hillary Clinton in a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The three-term mayor of New York City called on his fellow independents to vote for Hillary Clinton saying, “I am asking you to join with me not out of party loyalty, but out of love of country,” (see DNC, the final day). Since the convention, other prominent Republicans have said they intend to support the Democratic nominee. See NPR News’ article, See who’s defecting. Another twist in the story?
Clearly there was a huge difference between the two conventions. The tone of the Republican convention seemed to be that America is falling apart and is in grave danger. It had a message of “doom and gloom”. The Democratic convention was starkly opposite in tone from the Republican party’s. The Democrat’s message portrayed an America that is more united than divided, and pushed the message that there is hope for a better future. It seems most Canadians agree with my assessment. (see How Canadians saw conventions). There is no question in my mind that the Democratic Party had (has) a better message and put on a better show during their convention. Could this mean that one party is the villain and the other party is the hero like you have in a fiction novel?
It seems Mr. Trump thought so since he begged people not to watch the last day of the Democratic Convention. According to Politics Today’s article, Trump Begs People Not to Watch Hillary Clinton, Trump’s campaign sent a fund-raising email urging supporters not to tune into Clinton’s acceptance speech on Thursday night. The email read, “Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don’t watch Hillary’s DNC speech tonight. Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks.” I didn’t see that one coming either. Talk about strange twists in the world of US politics.
A positive part of this fiction-like story is both parties had openly gay speakers at their national conventions. At the Republican convention an openly gay billionaire and cofounder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, gave a speech. At the Democratic Convention, a retired gay professional basketball player Jason Collins spoke. Sarah McBride made history as the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention. She was introduced by Rep. Sean Maloney, the first openly gay Congress member from the state of New York. I can’t say as I’ve ever seen that in politics. A new storyline?
What particularly makes this evolving story so interesting is that the daughters of the two presidential candidates are friends. Mail Online’s story, ‘She’s a great girl’, reports Ivanka Trump said she and Chelsea Clinton are still ‘good friends’, despite their parents’ verbal assaults against each other in the media. It also reports that Chelsea Clinton said that she was ‘absolutely’ still friends with Ivanka Trump.
Newsweek’s article, a brief history of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton’s friendship, says Clinton and Trump were once longtime friends. They’ve since distanced themselves from one another now that both men are on opposite sides in the presidential election. How is that for a bizarre twist? This story just keeps getting better and better.
A few months ago, one of my brothers as well as a good friend of mine put forth the idea that Trump ran for president to help Hillary Clinton become the next president. My initial reaction was “No, that can’t be.” It seems there are others out there that think the same thing. CBC News’ article, The complicated relationship between Trump and the Clintons, says, There’s a conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is a double agent on a “false flag” mission to ensure Hillary Clinton becomes the next president of the United States. This story just keeps getting stranger by the day.
Since the National Conventions, Donald Trump has insulted Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier who died protecting his unit in Iraq. Trump’s attack was due to Mr. Khan’s address at the Democratic national convention reprimanding Trump as unpatriotic and selfish. (see Trump’s confrontation). Mr. Trump has refused to endorse Paul Ryan, Republican house leader and Senator. John McCain, two high-ranking Republican elected officials in their bids to be reelected. (see Trump refuses to endorse). He did endorse them later on likely due to pressure from his advisors. The latest controversy is regarding President Barack Obama being criticized for shipping cash to Iran. Some Republicans say the US government paid the money as a ransom to free Americans held by Iran. At a rally in Florida Mr. Trump claimed that he had seen a video of people in Iran unloading money from the plane that flew $400 million in cash to Iran. He has since been forced to backtrack. (see Trump admits he didn’t see video). One has to wonder about that conspiracy theory. So, am I reading fiction? At times it seems so. I can’t wait to “read” the next chapter.