A dozen of us from the Orlando Sentinel’s CF100 are posting online commentary on the Republican and Democratic Conventions each night. Below are my comments from Wednesday night.
Who won? The backstage queue of speakers waiting to reach the podium may or may not have been prepared to endorse, or even mention, Donald Trump, but what they clearly were there to service was the real winner tonight: an emerging mosaic of a reconstituted America — strong again, safe again, great again . . . respected again; not just by others, but most importantly, by ourselves.
With a broad spectrum of Republican luminaries missing in action at this year’s convention and others willing to show themselves in the light of day even as castrati, it is not clear whether the Republican tent will ultimately be able to accommodate those sentiments after this election is over, regardless of whether The Donald wins or loses. What is clear, however, is that the bell has tolled, and for those at the RNC Convention, they know it is tolling for us.
The winner tonight isn’t a party plank, or even a bumper sticker tagline; it’s a political perspective that touches emotions and mindsets not truly mobilized in this country since the nation’s emerging Republican, Democratic and Whig parties debated it over 150 years ago. It’s today’s portrait of yesterday’s concept. It’s called Manifest Destiny. As the Republican Party sharpens its messaging, we will no doubt hear more about that as the election unfolds.
Who lost? As I watched the lineup of mainstream and fringe speakers, along with friends and family, incessantly and passionately pound at deeply rooted convictions of American exceptionalism left at the altar over the past eight years by impotent elected officials in both the executive and congressional branches of government, I empathized with the real losers tonight: those Republican nominees who failed to embrace, who failed to grasp, who failed to even perceive how disgruntled the electorate — for Wednesday night’s narrative, the Republicans — are at the status of our nation inside and outside its borders.
Left to their own and their consultants’ prosaic devices, they debated each other over traditional, albeit lame, themes: who was the “true conservative,” who was the “true Republican,” who was the real successor to Ronald Reagan. And as they cackled among themselves, the fox bludgeoned into the henhouse and stole the chicken who had laid the golden egg. Left abandoned and bleeding in the ramshackle roost were several distraught nominees with exceptional records who would have served our country well as president.
One could clearly argue that we, the American people, are the real losers, but tonight, my heart and mind go out to them.