Trump Doesn’t Get To Whine About ‘Cancel Culture’ When He’s CEO Of It
It really should be renamed “Festivus: the airing of grievances” — instead of the Republican National Convention. Especially compared to the Democratic National Convention. Watching the first ever, all virtual DNC in mid-August was like a balm, a healing salve for the soul of this nation. As I tuned in to my TV over the course of four nights, my patriotic energy was stirred for the first time in a long time. A renewed sense of hope washed over me — that maybe, just maybe, we can (and will) collectively do better this time around.
In stark contrast, the more recent RNC failed to energize at all. It had the vibe of a hyped up, watered down reality TV spectacle, plus the odd familiarity of state-controlled media you’d expect to see somewhere like North Korea. And really, it was more circus sideshow than reality TV show, featuring unimaginable offenses and mile-high hypocrisies; a parade of caricaturish clowns hellbent on soaring extremism to new heights.
Where to begin? Paradox, hypocrisy, and controversy became the apparent themes even before the show began. In a contributed opinion piece for USA Today, chairwoman of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel promised a depart from “doom and gloom,” but, as a depart from… what? Certainly not the DNC who rallied together and painted a hopeful and beautiful — but accurate — picture of the times we’re living in. And, despite McDaniel’s claim here that the Democrats failed to lay out a single policy, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have clearly laid out all their planned policies for anyone paying attention, starting with our most pressing crisis: how do we handle COVID-19 going forward?
The Biden/Harris answer is a far cry from Trump’s —a man who has called the coronavirus a “hoax” by the democrats (whom he alleges are trying to hurt his re-election, as if he isn’t hurting his chances all on his own). Trump has also referred to it as “the Chinese (or China) virus,” and “Kung Flu,” among other ridiculous, racist names.
By refusing to name it properly, Trump has further contributed to confusion over this global pandemic, and has thus encouraged the widespread circulation of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
A Biden/Harris administration would definitely handle the coronavirus differently (i.e., by using a science-based approach to protocols, among other logical measures). They certainly wouldn’t make fun of it, or encourage their base to. For perspective, see this op-ed written by Biden in January, 2020; he knew, even in January of 2020, how serious this was going to be.
Under the “Build Back Better” theme, Biden has announced strategic plans to rebuild our economy, noting that he will immediately put people to work by enlisting them to help fight COVID-19, including through a Public Health Jobs Corps. Biden has pledged to not just build back, but build back better. Better than Trump could ever hope of, or think of doing. Biden has pledged to not only ensure the future is “made in America,” but “made in all of America,” by all of America’s workers. He has pledged to create millions of new manufacturing and innovation jobs throughout all of America, and states these will be “high-quality, high-skill, safe jobs, with a choice to join a union.”
These are only a few. More of the Biden/Harris policies are outlined and easily identified on joebiden.com, or even through a quick google search.
Aside from his policies, it’s extremely important for this nation to appreciate that, by selecting Kamala Harris as the nation’s first black vice presidential candidate (who also happens to be a woman), Joe Biden has proven he is capable of not only listening to, but taking advice from those with opposing views — including, yes, even those who’ve attacked his policies. Unlike Trump, Biden doesn’t have thin skin or a need to hold grudges.
I think we can also safely assume that Joe Biden won’t use the oval office or White House rose garden to stage rally-like press conferences that quickly devolve into Festivus: the airing of grievances — petty grievances, especially grievances that pit him as the victim and are far beneath the dignity of the presidency. (We could go on and on about numerous other ways Biden will be better for this nation, but you get the point.)
At the DNC, Biden and Harris gave uplifting speeches, and while various speakers did (rightfully) attack Trump’s inability to handle the job, overall, the four nights of the DNC had much more to do with helping the American people see a way out of this mess. As well, the DNC leaned heavily into the opportunity for Americans to better know the backstories of who we’d be electing.
If only the masses would’ve had this kind of insight in Donald Trump’s backstory — one that showcases a lifetime of swindling, cheating, scamming, lying, racism, misogyny, abuse, stupidity, and so on —perhaps we’d be in a different place right now.
Meanwhile, the RNC was everything you’d expect to see associated with the “gloom and doom” propaganda of an authoritarian state. Including (but not limited to):
- wrangling of guest speakers and “actors”— several of whom didn’t know they were being filmed specifically to become a part of the GOP event, and moreover, didn’t give their consent to be used as political props;
- clear ethics violations (like the Hatch Act), especially in using the White House as a literal backdrop (and, an overtly partisan one) for the purpose of campaigning;
- the act of conducting official government business strictly “for the cameras” — reality-TV-show-style; and,
- a grand finale complete with celebratory fireworks, even as protesters right around the corner, but carefully removed from the frame, called out the loss of 180,000 American lives due to this administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus.
This tweet captured it perfectly:
Among many, many other atrocities and controversies, there was the last-minute removal of “Angel Mom” Mary Ann Mendoza, who was scheduled to speak until earlier in the day when she retweeted a Qanon thread touting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about a Jewish plan to control the world. Sadly, she’s an authentic representation of the current Republican party, whether they want to believe it or not.
There was the campy opening night video featuring the McCloskeys — living, breathing, walking contradictions — posing as (and appealing to) the suburbanites of America. A strangely curious juxtaposition. From behind the Carthage marble facing of their palatial, million-dollar, Renaissance palazzo, they warned the American public that, yes, you, too can be a victim of “crime and lawlessness” and “suburban decay” that Joe Biden’s low-quality housing options will bring to thriving suburban neighborhoods… just like our humble abode on our cozy corner of suburbia!
Patricia and Mark McCloskey spoke for the next several minutes, imbuing their rhetoric with equal parts fear-mongering and dark humor (albeit unfunny dark humor). At least once, they paused mid-script to meet eyes the way lovers do, you know, in fond remembrance of that one time they took in the fresh air of a summer evening, brandishing big guns and pointing them in the faces of harmless protesters.
Ah, the memories of bygone Junes, and the special type of paranoid delusion that comes from a couple’s many years spent consuming Fox “news.”
There was former Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, speaking against the theme of nepotism, propping up Hunter Biden as the prime example, while failing to appreciate the irony of the next two speakers: Tiffany Trump, and Eric Trump — in addition to Don Jr. and Ivanka — 4 total, of Donald Trump’s 5 (known) children, from three separate wives, all working in some capacity for their father the POTUS.
And who could forget Kimberly Guilfoyle (Trump’s re-election campaign advisor and Don Jr.’s girlfriend)? I bet she’s what people remember the most, and not for good reason. Not for her phenomenal speech, but for shouting across an empty, cavernous hall, with the zest and enthusiasm of Maleficent from Disney’s 1959 “Sleeping Beauty.” She’ll be remembered for the 6 terrifying minutes she spent scaring the sh*t out of America, and for all the memes she quickly inspired on Twitter and TikTok.
Speaking of Twitter… what on earth was going on with the eyes of literally every single speaker? All of them had a vacant, zombie-esque quality to their eyes, and I certainly wasn’t the first (or only one) to notice. Between the glazed over, bugged-out eyes (or Don Jr.’s drugged-out eyes), and Kimberly Guilfoyle’s strange dystopian monologue, #cocaine, #coked, and #adderall were trending that night, and Twitter erupted with even more memes and mockery. (Except for Donald Trump, who was lavishing praise on Guilfoyle, comparing her speech to Eva “Evita” Perón.)
It’s clownery. Absolute ass-clown shit.
There were plenty of other Trumpian behaviors, many delivered by Trump himself: Trump’s praising of Turkey’s president, in front of a man held hostage for 2 years by Turkey’s president:
“I have to say that, to me, President Erdoğan was very good.” — Donald Trump, to pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held captive in Turkey
In response to the number of prominent Republicans who took stage at the DNC to denounce Trump and endorse Biden, the RNC offered up one counterpart: NC born/Georgia Democrat, Vernon Jones, who sold his damn soul the moment he chose to say:
“Why is a lifelong Democrat speaking at the Republican National Convention? That’s a fair question. And here’s your answer: The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave the mental plantation they’ve had us on for decades.” — Vernon Jones, speaking at the 2020 RNC
On the final night of the MAGA train, Trump’s obvious favorite daughter Ivanka introduced him, and he walked out to his usual anthem “God Bless the USA” (God, I feel sick just thinking of that song now), though I really think Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” would’ve been a better fit.
All of these speeches had one purpose — one purpose in which they failed mightily: they were attempts at humanizing Donald Trump and his long documented history of being a con man, fraud, and failure.
But another (perhaps subtler) theme that weaved its way in and out of every long-winded, bulge-eyed speech was the Republicans condemnation of “cancel culture.” Every single speech, every single night. And on the final night, when Donald Trump gave his rambling, monotone, 70-minute acceptance speech (compared to Biden’s 25 minute acceptance speech), he welcomed the opportunity to whine about “cancel culture” as well.
How are you seriously whining about cancel culture, Donald? Especially when you’re the CEO of cancel culture?
In Trump’s 2007 book “Think Big and Kick Ass,” there’s this quote demonstrating his unique brand of cancel culture:
“When someone intentionally harms you or your reputation, how do you react? I strike back, doing the same thing to them only ten times worse.”
(I didn’t say Trump wrote that quote, because as most people know by now, he uses ghostwriters for every book he’s ever “written.”)
See, the thing is, this behavior is a pretty big deal coming from Trump, because he’s now President of the United States. He actually has the power to totally disrupt and cancel anyone’s career, well-being, or life. Even before he was installed into this fortunate position, he already wielded enough power — from his parents’ money, and having “low friends in high places” — to essentially take a wrecking ball to someone’s life and destroy it. And, unlike most humans capable of empathy, Donald Trump has always taken pleasure in the game of punching down.
It becomes easy to lose sight of Trump’s many horrific behaviors and actions, simply because there are so many, each one louder than the last. This is intentional. Like I said, a circus sideshow. Smoke and mirrors, all designed to keep us distracted. Psychological manipulation. All to hide his corruption and gross abuse of power.
Donald Trump banks on the expectation that us common folk will acquire “news fatigue,” that we’ll get so tired of hearing about it, we’ll simply tune out. And being tuned out means being out of touch with what’s happening in communities outside of our own… including Washington, D.C. — where norms and policies that make our country fair and great are being dismantled by the dozen every day, all by the Trump administration.
It feels like eons ago when some of these things happened, but just to refresh memory, here are a few examples of some of the people, communities, policies, institutions, and entities that Donald Trump’s specific brand of “cancel culture” has hurt (each is linked to an article where you can read more):
- The “Central Park Five”
- Kathy Griffin
- Rosie O’Donell
- Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe (a pageant owned by Trump)
- Megyn Kelly
- Mika Brzezinski
- Katy Tur
- Women who bravely speak up about their own sexual assaults, knowing they stand to lose everything
- Journalists and reporters of color, particularly black women
(or really, any strong woman)
- The economy, from day one of his presidency, including scaling back Obama era Department of Labor rules, such as overtime pay — which disproportionately affected single mothers and women of color
- Broad women’s rights, including quietly changing the definitions of sexual assault and domestic violence to no longer include psychological abuse
- Women of the Supreme Court
- The environment and climate change
- Racial justice
- WIC recipients
- PEPFAR, a successful, bipartisan program that provides lifesaving treatment to 11.5 million people worldwide affected by HIV/AIDS
- Ethics in American government, including conflict of interest
- Transparency and accountability in government and government officials
- The LGBTQ Community, particularly, trans people
- Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations that advocate for legally protected minority groups in America (who aren’t actually protected under a Trump/Pence administration)
- Democracy and government reform
- The integrity of our elections and democratic processes
- America’s working class
- Public education, K-12 schools
- Immigrants, farmers, factory workers, indigenous people, Americans who rely on food stamps, and who need health insurance the most
- The legitimacy of the American court system, intelligence communities, and our military, military families, and veterans
- Gun violence prevention
- Religious liberty (unless you happen to be of the Christian conservative faith)
- Higher education and students with student loans/debt
- National security, including measures that would help protect Americans from epidemics and pandemics, like ebola, swine flu, and COVID-19
- Republicans who say “bad things” about Donald Trump
(or, really, anyone who says “bad things” about Donald Trump)
- Our country’s reputation around the world, as well as our diplomacy and relationships with allies
- Facts/the truth
Facts and the truth. Remember those?
That reminds me: I haven’t even mentioned Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner here, but remember that time when he said the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus was so effective that by mid-summer, our economy would “really be rocking again”? And that, “by June, a lot of the country should back to normal”?
Yeah. It’s early September, and here we are.
Again, those are only a few examples out of many hundreds — if not thousands of people, communities, policies, institutions, and entities that Donald Trump has abused with the help of power and “cancel culture.”
If ever there was a time to “make America great again,” this is it. That time is now, and that election is only 62 days away, as of this writing. And yes, I know a sweeping change like that won’t happen overnight. Making America great again, or building back better — however you want to look at it — won’t be completed or even near-finished by the team of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. But, after four long years of Trump and his brand of cancel culture, it will, at least (and finally) be started.