Opinion: How Trump will try to erase what Democrats accomplished

Three centuries later, philosopher John Stuart Mill questioned the practicality of achieving a Utopia — popularizing the term “dystopia” in a speech to the House of Commons.

As they presented their case this past week for ousting the President, Democrats summoned a dystopian vision of Donald Trump’s America: a rampaging virus, record unemployment and democracy in danger. Over four nights, convention speakers, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Jill Biden, invoked decency, empathy, democracy, diversity and unity to rally voters behind Joe Biden. Trump is clueless about the Covid-19 pandemic and completely out of his depth in his job, they said. “It is what it is,” Michelle Obama concluded, echoing the President’s own recent comment.

Forced by the coronavirus to meet virtually, Democrats invented some new ways of convening, featuring a roll call that offered glimpses of all 57 states and territories — including a cameo appearance by a platter of Rhode Island calamari. “Let’s not go back to the old way of doing conventions,” Jen Psaki wrote, “The third night of the Democratic National Convention was far more powerful and more moving…”

But that was last week. Starting Monday Republicans will have a chance to strike back at their convention, to defend Trump’s presidency and to warn Americans not to entrust the White House to Democrats. And the outlines of their own fearsome dystopia are not hard to imagine. On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said on Fox News, “Joe Biden said last night that democracy was on the ballot, character’s on the ballot. Well, the economy is on the ballot, law and order is on the ballot, and the American people know it.”

Looking ahead to the RNC, David Axelrod wrote, “What may seem like a humane, common sense agenda to most Americans this week will be cast by Trump and the Republicans as nothing more than job-crushing environmental regulations; amnesty for ‘illegals’ and open borders; an attack on police that invites urban violence and anarchy; onerous new taxation and a radical assault on the Second Amendment.”

These are the jagged fault lines of American politics: a rising number of young people, racial minorities and college-educated White voters versus those who view the cultural and social changes proudly displayed at the Democratic National Convention this week as a threat,” Axelrod noted.
Frida Ghitis noted that in his speech Thursday night, Biden “made it stark when he vowed to help the country ‘overcome this season of darkness’ … underpinning it all was the terrifying prospect that the devastation caused by the current President could lead the country to even darker places if Democrats cannot win in November.”

Praise for Biden

Biden’s speech got positive reviews, jeopardizing Trump’s effort to question the former vice president’s mental ability. “The caricature of the bumbling old fool that Republicans were pushing went out the window tonight,” wrote Van Jones. “They will have to go back to the drawing board for their convention next week.”
David Gergen, who has been an adviser to four presidents, argued that “Biden emphatically proved on Thursday that he is up to the job — and then some. He spoke movingly about pain and suffering but showed flashes of inner steel when describing his opponent.”
Republicans contended that the Democrats focused more on passion than policy, as Alice Stewart put it. “They are making a strong play for winning over the hearts of voters– and largely relying on emotion to carry them over the finish line.
Oren Cass said, “Barack Obama’s legacy looms awkwardly over Joe Biden.” He added that “Biden’s agenda was, almost verbatim, a reiteration of Obama’s … none of this tackles America’s fundamental challenges or changes course from the policy mistakes of the past generation.”
Many Americans are concerned about casting their vote this fall, given the pandemic and Trump’s continual attacks on mail-in ballots. Postal worker Sinikka Melvin, who heads the postal worker union local in Clarksburg, West Virginia, wrote that her co-workers are committed to their mission. “We’re Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and everything in between. Regardless, we’re still postal workers who, come snow, rain, heat or politics, will get the mail to our communities. We want our new postmaster general to give us the tools to do our job and do it well.

And it’s not only about the election, Melvin wrote. “Delayed deliveries harm the public. It’s the customer who comes first thing in the morning to get a medicine they urgently need and can’t wait for. It’s your paycheck you need to put food on the table. It’s that new coat your child needs for winter. It’s your passport you’ve eagerly waited on. Your reading list for the new semester. Your 12th birthday card. Your new face mask. The ways the Postal Service affects our lives are endless.”

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