Six months ago, U.S. President Donald Trump had all but won the 2020 election. A few months later, the pandemic hit and the economy was in shambles. The Democrats now had a solid story to tell, putting Trump’s reelection in doubt. A few more months passed by and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was leading by double-digits, nearly impossible to beat. Now, with the Republican National Convention (RNC) underway, the outcome of the election isn’t so clear. Trump has doubled-down on his rhetoric and is doing his utmost to galvanize the GOP base. With the country nearly evenly split, the election will be decided by voter turnout: Who can rally their base? Trump has apparently read the memo, and the RNC is very much geared in response.
The Republican convention could have helped in bridging the divide. The convention could have been one of reconciliation and togetherness and even one that appeals to disenfranchised progressives. It has not been that. If anything it has gone over and above what we expected from Trump. Trump cranked it up to 11, and the strategy might just pay off. Remember the couple that stood outside their Missouri home with an assault rifle and a handgun threatening protestors who just so happened to be walking to the mayor’s home? They were Patricia and Mark McCloskey, and I can’t imagine a lower-scoring pair on any favorability survey, yet there they were, front and center on the opening night of the convention.
Trump didn’t have to have the McCloskey's there. He didn’t have to have his son’s girlfriend scream into a microphone in an empty hall, but he did. This theater wasn’t meant for those undecided; it was meant for hardcore Trump supporters that just don’t vote. The McCloskeys were reprehensible to even the most ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. Brandishing firearms at unarmed protesters? Come on. Yet, there they were given more time to speak than the Democrats gave Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Trump is, if nothing else, resourceful. He’ll do whatever he can to win and this strategy was most likely backed by that same instinct. Can he get those Republicans that have never voted to vote for the first time? Can you knock off some Democrats who have become disillusioned by the response of Democratic governors both to the pandemic and to the protests following the murder of George Floyd? He thinks he can, and we’ll know for sure in a few short months.