Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Election Update #9



After much discussion, Donald Trump finally picked his running mate, Mike Pence. He is the governor of Indiana, and a reliable conservative politician. He is best known for his strong anti-abortion views and the signing of into law of anti-gay rights bills. Pence is soft-spoken, and makes self-deprecating jokes about how boring he is. As a soft-spoken conservative political insider, he couldn't be more different than Trump. Analysts think Trump chose him to balance out his personality and to appeal to conservative voters. The announcement itself came with some drama; Pence being chosen was prematurely leaked to the press, and Trump later asked his aides if he could choose someone else after the press called his VP choice boring. Now Trump denies anything and says he is happy to have Pence on board.

With his VP pick, Donald Trump headed into the Republican convention in Cleveland last week, which is where Republican politicians from across the country gather and officially declare the nominee. The #NeverTrump movement made its last stand here, by trying to get the Rules Committee that makes the rules for the convention to let delegates (people who represent the voters of their state) vote for whoever they wanted rather than how the people of their state voted. This would possibly allow Donald Trump to lose even though he received the popular vote. This attempt failed, and the convention went on. 

The speakers were mostly pretty boring. Instead of politicians, there were (not too famous) celebrities,  an optometrist, and an avocado farmer. The only notable speakers early on only on were Chris Christie, who attacked Hillary and caused the crowd to chant, "lock her up!", and a mother whose child died in Benghazi and blames Hillary Clinton. The speakers in the convention were notably unsubstantial, speaking little of policy and mostly speaking ill of immigrants. 

The first big event was Melania Trump (Donald Trump's wife)'s speech. Donald Trump, who was not supposed to appear until the end of the convention, but couldn't help making the flashiest ever entrance to introduce her. He entered through smoke-filled air with the song "We are the Champions" playing. 

Melania herself delivered the speech fairly well, but after the speech the press found that she had plagiarized large sections from Michelle Obama's speech. This largely overshadowed the day.

Another significant speech was by Ted Cruz, Donald Trump's main rival. Ted gave a speech for "voting your conscience," which is usually a euphemism for not voting for Trump. He also failed to endorse Trump, prompting a ton of booing. Later, Trump trashed Cruz, again bringing up tabloid conspiracy theories about his father, and saying that he wouldn't accept Cruz's endorsement in the future.

Finally, the roll call happened. In this event, each state was called by the stage and reported what delegates went to each candidate. The candidate with at least 1237 delegates would become the official nominee. Here, people were expecting a coup by the #NeverTrump-ers. The delegates could have walked out, made the smallest states go first to delay the nomination, or at least boo. However, the Trump campaign sent people with neon-green hats all over the convention floor to keep everyone in line, so everything went smoothly. The state that put Trump over the magic number of delegates was his home state of New York. His son, Donald Trump Jr. read out the delegate totals and congratulated his dad. Later, he made a speech hoping to humanize his dad.

Finally, the last day came and Trump gave his speech to accept the nomination. The speech was one of the longest in convention history, and painted a picture of America as a country in bad shape that badly needed fixing. The convention in general communicated the idea that America is a really screwed place, but did not provide concrete policies on how to fix it.


This week is the Democratic convention. After the mistakes made in the Republican convention and the tone of pessimism it set, Democrats were eager to have a more smoothly run convention  that conveyed a tone of optimism. Now Bernie had endorsed Clinton, and more and more of his supporters were turning over to Clinton as the attacks against Bernie that agitated them in the primary were fading. 

However, this went badly. Over the weekend, Wikileaks released 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee email servers, which were hacked by Russians. Sanders supporters long saw the Democratic National Committee as pro-Hillary for various reasons: it scheduled debates between Bernie and Hillary at times when very few viewers would be watching (supposedly to help Hillary), closed polling stations in states Bernie was likely to win in, and accused Bernie supporters of violence during the Nevada convention without concrete evidence. Not to mention that many of the top DNC officials worked on Clinton's campaign in 2008. The emails provided unquestionable evidence of the bias. 

2 of the emails

People in the DNC called Bernie and his campaign manager foul names. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the head of the DNC, said Bernie would never be president and implying that he could be would be "silly." This was late in the primaries, when Bernie was not far behind Hillary in the polls, and still could win. Other emails snubbed Bernie supporters. But worst by far, the CFO of the DNC sent an email saying that he wanted to plant a story in the media that Bernie was an atheist, despite Bernie being Jewish. He said that could turn off voters in the upcoming states that were going to vote, and hopefully make Bernie lose. 

It also shows the embarrassing lengths the DNC went to court rich donors. This was more evidence of the corporate corruption that Bernie supporters hate.

This created a firestorm online, and enraged Bernie supporters who were starting to fall behind Clinton. Debbie was the main target of ire. Here is Debbie in her home state of Florida.

Over the weekend, Bernie Sanders called for Debbie's resignation. This Sunday, she said she would resign by the end of the week. She also gave up her role speaking at the convention, probably trying to avoid a scene like Ted Cruz's speech, where he was booed off the stage.

Bernie gave a speech before the convention calling for unity, again endorsing Hillary Clinton. His own supporters loudly booed him when he said this. Later, he sent a text message to his supporters and delegates asking them to not protest. This message didn't affect much.

Yesterday, the first day of the convention, got off to a rocky start. Protests outside the convention raged. Inside the convention hall, about a third of convention-goers were still carrying pro-Bernie signs. Any mention of Hillary Clinton's name set off loud booing, and chants of "Bernie! Bernie!", which were met by chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" However, a speaking lineup of Michelle Obama (the First Lady), Elizabeth Warren (Democrat from Massachusetts, a big leader of the progressive movement), and Bernie Sanders himself helped the situation. 

Michelle Obama's speech was widely well received. She personalized the election, asking people to think about what example the president would set to their children for at least the next four years.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders enthusiastically tried to convince progressives to vote for Hillary, and for once weren't met with boos.

No comments:

Post a Comment