Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

RNC Day 2: Gimme That Old Time Religion

The second night of the Republican National Convention was designed to shore up support among right-wing Christian and evangelical Republicans.

Otto Fors

August 26, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Mike Pompeo making a speech

The second night of the Republican National Convention (RNC), like the first, was filled to the brim with red-baiting, racism, and nepotism. The speakers heaped a constant stream of praise on President Trump, thanking him for everything from lobster-fishing to the military. The spectacle even included a live naturalization ceremony as well as a presidential pardon. However, whereas the target audience on the first night of the RNC was Trump’s far-right base and suburban voters, the second night was a clear attempt by the Trump campaign to shore up support among the religious right. 

Seemingly every speaker mentioned “unborn children,” the right to life, and Democrats’ alleged support for distributing “abortion-inducing drugs.” Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned anti-abortion activist, told a graphic story about seeing a room of “pieces of children” and witnessing a baby fighting for his life during her time at Planned Parenthood, where employees allegedly had “abortion quotas.” An Albuquerque police officer described discovering a pregnant drug-user and asking her if she knew that she was harming her unborn child. Even a Maine lobsterman found a way to mention the right to life, immediately before mentioning his gratitude to Trump for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. These speakers were meant to show right-wing voters that Trump will continue to attack the right to choose, and is an ally of the pro-life movement. 

Two Trump administration officials were also carefully picked to court right-wing Christian voters, particularly evangelicals. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the audience live from Jerusalem, calling it the “City of God” and quoting scripture. The speech and deliberate backdrop was consistent with the U.S.’s oppression of Palestinians and support for the Israeli government’s annexation of Palestinian land. In particular, in keeping with the theme of the evening, Pompeo’s speech was a nod to right-wing Christian Zionists who have applauded the Trump administration’s vocal, unequivocal support for the Israeli government and the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem. 

Vice President Mike Pence — extremely popular among conservative Christian Republicans and seen as giving “evangelical credibility” to the Trump administration — also appeared in a segment talking to Americans whose lives had been changed by Donald Trump, calling him a man of faith. The evening’s speakers were sending a clear message to the audience: Trump is the candidate of the religious right. 

The second night of the RNC also demonstrated the ease with which Republicans can and will poke holes in the idea that Biden is a champion of the Black community. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul criticized the 1994 Crime Bill, which Biden played a central role in crafting and championing and which helped usher in an era of mass-incarceration. Speaking on the heels of Jon Ponder, a Black man whom Trump pardoned during the convention, Senator Paul said that the bill “wreaks havoc on communities of color.” Paul also brought up Biden’s pro-war record, his vote for the Iraq War, and his support for other U.S. military interventions. This is interesting because it shows a continuation of the Republicans’ double bluff: on one hand, they want their base to believe that Donald Trump is the natural successor to George W. Bush’s conservatism. On the other hand, by invoking Biden’s dismal record on issues such as racial justice and military intervention, they are arguing that Trump’s policies benefit the Black community more than Biden, that Trump is not a racist, and that Biden is a hypocrite. In doing so, rather than hoping to win Black votes, Republicans hope to soothe the conscience of the suburban white voters they hope to win over in time for the election. 

Likewise, other speakers mentioned Biden’s lifelong support for trade deals like NAFTA and other economic policies that have harmed the working class. Biden was described as “a career politician,” detached from the concerns of everyday Americans. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron even mentioned Biden’s “You ain’t Black” comment this spring. While many of these attacks on Biden are true, Donald Trump is also a racist, an imperialist, and an enemy of the working class. His and the RNC speakers’ attacks on Biden are laughably hypocritical. 

One topic was conspicuously under-discussed during the evening: the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to nearly 180,000 deaths in the United States alone. Whereas the Democrats opted to cancel the in-person convention in Milwaukee, Republicans flocked to Charlotte, North Carolina, with speakers appearing live — and unmasked — at the podium. This is consistent with Trump, his administration, and his base downplaying the coronavirus. The night’s keynote speaker, Melania Trump, even appeared live from the White House rose garden in front of an unmasked audience. 

At times, it felt like the RNC occurred in a parallel pandemic-free universe, with Melania Trump being the only speaker to speak at length about the coronavirus and sympathize with its victims. Between attacks on Joe Biden and overtures to religious voters, Trump supporters spoke about the Trump administration’s small business focus, the economy “roaring back again,” and the need to keep the American economy growing despite the current economic crisis converging with the pandemic. Far from speaking to the hardships that Americans are experiencing as a result of these crises, the Republicans at the RNC focused on animating Trump’s far-right base, red-baiting, and courting right-wing Christian voters.

Facebook Twitter Share

Otto Fors

Otto is a PhD student and lecturer in New York.

United States

Detroit protesters hold green banner that says "DTE" Affordable Renewable Energy Now

Detroiters Say ‘Hell No!’ to DTE’s Proposed Electricity Rate Hike

Detroiters are confronting regulators who are deciding whether private utilities can extract more profits from the working class during energy, inflation, housing, and climate crises.

Lee Palmer

September 20, 2022
US President Joe Biden stands in a suit wearing a mask, but is taking off one side of it.

Despite What Biden Says, the Pandemic Isn’t Over

Joe Biden and the bourgeoisie may be ready for the pandemic to be over, but that doesn’t mean Covid-19 has gone away.

Olivia Wood

September 20, 2022
Image of the Capitol building in grey scale with a turquoise semi-transparent overlay towards the left and a white semi-transparent overlay to the bottom right of it, overlapping slightly.

Polarization, Economic Crisis, and Class Struggle: The Contradictions of the Political Moment

From the resurgence of the Democratic party to the advance of the Right to the potential of Generation U, it is evident that we are in a moment of instability and heightened polarization in the midst of a burgeoning economic crisis and rising labor movement. The Left must take the opportunities presented by the current moment and turn them into advances for our movement.

Ezra Brain

September 18, 2022
In the center foreground, a Black person with gray close shaved hair wearing an orange t shirt wipes their face with their hand. In the background are pallets of water bottles and people are moving them.

Environmental Racism Leads to Water Crisis in Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi, a city whose population is more than 80 percent Black, has been without clean reliable water for days, adding to the ongoing water issues due to decades of neglect and divestment.

Molly Rosenzweig

September 2, 2022

MOST RECENT

Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni gives a speech, an Italian flag covers the podium

Elections in Italy amid Political Crisis: Interview with an Italian Socialist

The right wing is expected to win in Italy’s snap elections on Sunday. An Italian socialist explains the origins of the current political crisis, the rise of the right wing, and the tasks for the Left.

Left Voice

September 21, 2022

Say Her Name! Protests Erupt across Iran after Police Murder of Mahsa Amini

Iran has erupted over the death of a young woman in police custody for "improperly" wearing the hijab. In the context of a deep economic and political crisis, Iranians are also questioning their deeply unpopular regime and its brutal oppression of women.

Maryam Alaniz

September 20, 2022
King Charles III, sits on a throne with a crown on the seat next to him.

King Charles III Assumes the Throne by Firing over 100 Workers

King Charles III began his reign by announcing the firing of 100 workers from his previous residence. This comes amid complaints that people have been arrested for demonstrating against the monarchy.

A Socialist Take on the Women’s March Convention

In mid August over 1,700 activists attended the Women’s March Convention in Houston Texas. While the participants were driven by rage at the status quo, the non-profit and corporate leaders of the Women’s March offered only a failed strategy of voting for the Democrats and supporting “progressive” capitalists.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

September 16, 2022