David Kurtz: Whence The Anger?:
If there's one thing Tierney Sneed and Lauren Fox found while reporting for us in Cleveland that I probably don't factor in enough in assessing the Trump phenomenon it's the deep resentment and bitterness Republican Party rank-and-file feel toward their own leaders for not fulfilling the extravagant promises made to them since the 2010 Tea Party revolt. I tend to focus more on the white resentment, race-baiting, and xenophobia that arise from the tectonic social shifts way below the surface. They're not decoupled from each other, but the promise that Obama would be put in his place (with all the accompanying racial overtones to that notion) and his political and policy agenda expunged from the public record were powerful GOP draws for three election cycles, as detached from political reality as those promises may have been.
You get a strong flavor of that intra-party resentment in Lauren and Tierney's dispatch from last night. We've written before about how the grievances nursed against Obama ultimately came to be redirected at Republican leaders on the Hill, and you certainly saw that with the booing of Mitch McConnell this week when he was on the stage. But their story is a good reminder on that point and captures it well.
Lauren Fox and Tierney Sneed: How Trump Ultimately Won Over The Republican Convention:
CLEVELAND – As the Republican convention came to a close Thursday night, the resounding feeling on the convention floor, in the halls and parties within the arena was that Donald Trump – an anti-politician, a man who shattered the ceiling of political correctness and prescribed policies that the establishment in his own party have argued would fundamentally reshape the country – was the unifying answer to a vast and yet vague anger and anxiety penetrating the Republican Party.
The dark and gloomy acceptance speech that delegates enthusiastically embraced Thursday was a reminder of just where the Grand Old Party has found itself. It's no longer Reagan's morning in America, let alone a promise of hope or change. Instead the crowd applauded promises to build a wall, restore law and order, and put “America first.”
["Obama] has splintered us as a nation, and we've got to get back to our basic foundations. You have to go to back sometimes to be able to go forward,” Illinois delegate Stephanie Holderfield told TPM.
Trump's speech, though pessimistic, tapped into many of the anxieties that the convention attendees have expressed throughout convention week. It does not matter that crime is at an historic low. Trump supporters see a slip into a lawlessness akin to the late 1960s -- a parallel the convention programming played up in Trump’s intro video, as well as in his declaration that he will be the law and order candidate.
“New York was, in the 1970s, when I grew up there, it was going down the drain, going down the drain. Trump was among a handful of business people who helped bring it back" said Ken Reid, a Virginia delegate, adding that he sees a similar pattern now.
“I’m not angry, I’m not frustrated. I just don’t like the direction the country is heading in,” said Davida Stike, an alternate delegate from Texas. “Just look at what we’re doing here at this convention. Do you see how many police officers are here? I think safety is a huge issue to the American people right now especially with regard to civil unrest and there needs to be someone who can talk to the people and make them feel safe and not like they want to go out and kill police officers.”
In Trump, Republican delegates saw strength, a deal maker and a figure who portrays such a fluid ideology that they can imagine the businessman to be and believe anything they want him to. If they fear terrorism, he tells them he wants to ban any person who comes from a country “compromised by terrorism.” If they fear he’s not quite ready to be president, they tell themselves his VP pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be running the show. But what Republicans in Cleveland expressed was confidence that Trump will actually deliver for them in a way that other Republicans have not.
“We need somebody who is going to get something done. Who is going to negotiate something on behalf of our country,” said Mike Lachs , a New Jersey voter wearing elephant ears in the convention hall. “Look, we just went through a bad deal with Iran, a bad deal with Cuba. I don’t see him doing that. I think he’ll make deals.”
But who Trump was running against in the general election was clearly an animating force, and a point of unity for a fragmented party.
The chant of the week was not “repeal and replace Obamacare” as it had been in 2012, but “lock her up,” a line encouraged by speakers on stage. On the floor Thursday, a man in an orange jumpsuit circulated the floor. He wore a sign on his back that read “Hillary Clinton: Serial Killer.”
Below it were three alleged crimes.
“Benghazi,” “Fast and Furious,” and “Aiding Criminal Illegal Aliens in Murders of Americans.”
Unfortunately for the Republican establishment, Trump supporters’ were not shy about displaying their anger at their own party as well. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was repeatedly booed.
Beer in hand, standing just outside the Quicken Loans Arena, Texas delegates Reid Wilson and Sean Ireland were getting fired up as they recounted the ways Republican leaders in Washington had let them down and all the ways their nominee Donald Trump was going to bring accountability back to government.
“We’re disappointed that when it’s campaign season one thing is said and then when we watch them up on the Hill, it’s a different thing that is being talked about. I wouldn’t say we are just angry people. We feel a sense of betrayal,” Wilson said.
“Betrayal is a good word,” Ireland joined in. “I swear if you were to look at what the U.S. Senate and Congress have done since January 2015... you would not know that the Republicans were in charge.”
Herb Phillips wasn’t a delegate at the Republican convention. He was a volunteer who took a week-long vacation from his steel plant job in southwestern Pennsylvania to drive to Cleveland and be with Donald Trump.
“I’m disappointed,” Phillips said about the state of the country. “You know and I’m a vet and when you’re a vet, it hits harder. It hits deeper.”