Republicans make it official with convention non-platform: They’re the Party of Trump

Last week, Democrats held a remarkably successful remote convention, showcasing the fights for racial justice, health care, and human decency. Coming up this week, the Republican National Convention will confirm that the Republican Party is a Donald Trump cult of personality. Of course the RNC won’t support racial justice or health care or human decency, but it’s also unlikely to showcase even the basic competence involved in putting on an innovative and watchable political convention during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s appropriate, since Trump is responsible for so much of the pandemic’s devastation in the United States.

Most of all, this RNC will showcase what the Republican Party is today: the Trump Party. Instead of a platform outlining the party’s policy agenda, Republicans are just signing on for blanket support of Trump. This is it: “be it RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.” 

No, convention platforms are never directly translated into law, but that is nonetheless a stunning abdication of any attempt by the broader Republican Party to assert an agenda beyond Donald Trump’s passing whims.

The RNC speaker list also highlights Trump’s total ownership of the party. Trump himself will reportedly speak every night, and the rest of the speakers announced thus far—a fairly short list—are heavy on Trump family members and lackeys. This is how deep into the Trump family the lineup goes: Not just Don Jr., but girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. Not just Eric, but wife Lara. Even largely forgotten daughter Tiffany Trump will speak. Favorite daughter Ivanka is a given, despite the ethics conflict her alleged work in the White House presents—in that capacity, she isn’t supposed to engage in politics.

Since this is the Trump Party, though, ethics issues are not just being ignored but gleefully trampled. In addition to Ivanka’s appearance, Team Trump is violating the Hatch Act’s prohibition on using the government properties like the White House for political purposes, planning for Melania Trump to speak from the Rose Garden, which she just had redesigned in some very interesting timing, while Donald Trump speaks from the White House and fireworks are set off over the South Lawn. “Some of Mr. Trump’s aides privately scoff at the Hatch Act and say they take pride in violating its regulations,” The New York Times reports. The Hatch Act is, let’s be clear, not some kind of gentle guideline. It is a law. Which Trump aides are proud of breaking.

Other speakers will include South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem; Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (another significant ethics issue); Sens. Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, and Marsha Blackburn; Reps. Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik; former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley; and former Florida attorney general and Trump impeachment lawyer Pam Bondi. The St. Louis couple who achieved notoriety for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters passing by their giant mansion in a gated community will be there, as will Andrew Pollack, the father of a Parkland shooting victim.

Ernst is notably the only Republican senator currently facing a tough race who is scheduled to speak at the RNC.