Type to search

Battle Between Left And Right No Longer A Contest Of Ideas

Campaign 2016 Elections Featured Post Memo Pad Politics

Battle Between Left And Right No Longer A Contest Of Ideas

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks live via satellite from Trump Tower in New York City during the second session at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Well, that was sure ugly.

Last week’s Republican conclave in Cleveland came across less as a nominating convention than as a four-day nervous breakdown, a moment of fracture and bipolarity from a party that no longer has any clear idea what it stands for or what it is. Everywhere you turned there was something that made you embarrassed for them, something so disconnected from fact, logic or decency as to suggest those things no longer have much meaning for the party faithful.

Did the convention really earn rave reviews from white supremacists, with one tweeting approvingly that the GOP “is becoming the de facto white party?”

Did Florida Gov. Rick Scott really say he could remember “when terrorism was something that happened in foreign countries” — as if four little girls were never blown to pieces in a Birmingham church, and an NAACP lawyer and his wife were never killed by a bomb in Scott’s own state?

Did Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel really say, “It’s time to end the era of stupid wars,” as if it were Democrats who dragged Republicans into Iraq with promises of flowers strewn beneath American tanks?

Did Ben Carson really link Hillary Clinton to Satan? Did the crowd really chant, repeatedly and vociferously, for her to be jailed? Did at least two Republicans actually call for her execution?

No, you weren’t dreaming. The answer is yes on all counts.

Then there was the party’s nominee. Donald Trump’s “acceptance speech” was a 75-minute scream as incoherent as everything that preceded it. He vowed to protect the LGBTQ community from “a hateful foreign ideology,” as if his party’s platform did not commit it to support so-called “conversion therapy,” an offensive bit of quackery that purports to “cure” homosexuality.

He accused President Obama of dividing the nation, as if he were not the one recycling Richard Nixon’s racist Southern strategy with unsubtle cries of “law and order,” and George H.W. Bush’s infamous Willie Horton ad with tales of “illegals” out to kill us.

Trump painted a bleak picture of a nation in decline and under siege, and he offered a range of responses: fear or fright, fury or rage. But glory be, he promised to fix everything that ails us, down to and including long lines at the airport. Trump gave few specifics, mind you, beyond a guarantee that he can do all this “quickly.” Any resemblance to a guy hawking magical elixir from the back of a wagon was surely unintentional.

This gathering made one thing clear, if it had not been already. The battle between left and right is no longer a contest of ideas, no longer about low taxes versus higher ones, small government versus big government, intervention versus isolation. No, the defining clash of our time is reason versus unreason, reason versus an inchoate fear and fury growing like weeds on the cultural, class, religious and racial resentments of people who cling to an idealized 1954 and wonder why the country is passing them by.

The Republicans, as presently constituted, have no ideas beyond fear and fury. And Lord help us, the only thing standing between us and that is a grandmother in pantsuits.

The Democrats have their gathering this week in Philadelphia. Ordinarily, you’d call on them to present a competing vision, but the GOP has set the bar so low you’d be happy to see the Democrats just present a vision, period, just appeal to something beyond our basest selves, just remind us that we can be better and our politics higher than what we saw last week.

This has to happen. Because, you see, the Republicans were right on at least one point: The nation does face a clear and present danger, a menace to our values, our hopes and our future. If the GOP wants to see this threat, there’s no need to look outward.

Any good mirror will do.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.


Photo: Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks live via satellite from Trump Tower in New York City during the second session at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

  • 1


  1. I of John July 27, 2016

    Personally my old school grandmother would gave kicked Trump’s ass in a pants suite.

    1. AgLander July 27, 2016

      Your old school grandmother was too busy making money on the side with her pants suit off while entertaining traveling salesmen.

      1. FireBaron July 27, 2016

        By the way, Ag, what did you say your mother’s name was? Just checkin’.

        1. plc97477 July 27, 2016

          Maybe it was rover.

      2. Charles Winter July 27, 2016

        Glad you acknowledge that you have neither fact nor logical argument on your side.

        1. dpaano July 27, 2016

          Besides a general lack of knowledge and fact, he also has no manners, is rude and a total imbecile! Enough said!!!

      3. dpaano July 27, 2016

        You, sir, are ridiculous and your comments are base and rude! Not sure exactly WHAT John said that would make you come up with the stupid comments that you posted! You sound like you’re a 10-year old with a computer and no one to watch you! Go ask your mommy if she’ll give you a cookie and go take a nap…..maybe you’ll feel better when you wake up!! In the meantime, keep your rude and ridiculous comments to yourself! You’re a disgrace!

  2. FireBaron July 27, 2016

    Consider the following:

    Republican Party Platform:
    Pro TPP
    Pro NATO
    Pro Israel

    Consider Trump’s statements:
    Opposes anti-gay legislation
    Believes in a woman’s right to choose
    Opposes the TPP
    Believes NATO has outlived its usefulness
    Pro Israel

  3. CrankyToo July 27, 2016

    Trump “…..vowed to protect the LGBTQ community from a hateful foreign ideology…..”

    And yet, he’s butt-hole buddies with Boris Putrid, the Russian dick-tater who is the personification of a “hateful foreign ideology”, and whose government openly sponsors the persecution (AND prosecution) of gay people.

    Yeah, Trump’s a real peach. And you morons who plan on pulling the lever for him in November are the pits.

  4. dpaano July 27, 2016

    The ONLY way that the GOP can seemingly motivate their base is with lies and scare tactics and this convention encompassed all of that and then some!!! I just hope that most of America realizes that this country is not in as much of a shamble as Trump seems to want to convince his followers that it is!!! But, if he’s elected, you’ll see it go down the tubes quickly (as Trump puts it)!!! He will bring nothing but chaos to this country the likes of which we will never see again!!!

    1. wjca July 28, 2016

      What it comes down to is this. IF Trump gets elected, then he was correct — the country was a shambles and going down the tubes at high speed. Because that’s the only way to describe a country which would elect him.

      Fortunately, there appears to be a decent chance that we will prove him wrong. Not a certainty, of course, but at least a decent chance.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.