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 college professor in the New York area.

United States

Three activists stand together while one activist holds up an "uncommitted" sign with the word "vote" written on it many times. In the left side of the picture another activist holds a sign that says "abandon Genocide Joe"

Don’t Vote Uncommitted — Commit to Breaking with the Democrats

Tapping into deep anger with President Biden, the left wing of the Democratic Party is urging Michigan voters to vote “uncommitted” in the primary election. But this strategy funnels progressives’ energy back into the Democratic party when we need political independence from the parties supporting the genocide in Gaza.

Brian H. Silverstein

February 27, 2024

The Organic Crisis in 2024: This Year’s Election Is a Battle for the Hearts and Minds of U.S. Workers

The battle between Trump and Biden is being shaped by a crisis of the political regime, requiring the intervention of both the judiciary and the union bureaucracy. The battle for the presidency is a battle for the working class and a battle over which approach to imperialism is best for competing with China and reestablishing US hegemony. As usual, the Democrats are taking up the cudgel of democratic rights in order to rally disaffected voters.

Sybil Davis

February 23, 2024
A NYPD officer arrests a masked pro-Palestine protestors wearing a kaffiyeh while other cops and masked protesters look on.

Attacks on the Pro-Palestine Movement Are Attacks on the Right to Protest

As the movement for Palestine against Israel’s brutal military invasion of Gaza and attacks on the West Bank continues at a lower intensity than last fall, the State is cracking down on the leaderships of the movement and rolling back gains made by the Black Lives Matter uprising of 2020. The movement must grow in order to fight back against repression and protect our democratic right to protest.

Carmin Maffea

February 10, 2024

When Columbia Students Are Under Attack, We Must Stand Up, Fight Back!

On January 19, two Columbia University students who are former Israeli Defense Forces soldiers attacked students with a chemical-based weapon called “skunk,” at a campus protest against the genocide of Palestinians. Students must unite with workers to defend our movement; from Palestine to Low, the attacks have got to go!

K.S. Mehta

February 2, 2024


Protesters at an evening protest in NY carry a sign that reads "from ferguson to palestine occupation is a crime"

This Black History Month, Let’s Fight for Palestinian Liberation

Black liberation struggles have always expressed solidarity with the struggle against the Zionist occupation of Palestine. This Black History Month, as Israel continues its genocide in Gaza, this tradition takes on a special importance.

Carmin Maffea

February 26, 2024
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Two Years of War in Ukraine

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the war in Ukraine after two years, and the continued need for an independent, working-class solution.

Left Voice

February 24, 2024

The Tide Is Turning: New Yorkers Are Speaking Out for Palestinian Liberation

New York's anti-zionist movement is is rising up and speaking out for Palestinian liberation.

Ana Orozco

February 23, 2024

The United States Is Trapped in the Middle East

As a result of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, the United States is again becoming deeply entrenched in the Middle East. This is a humiliating blow to President Biden, who promised to reassert U.S. imperialism by moving away from direct involvement in the region.

Samuel Karlin

February 22, 2024