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Republicans use cultural signifiers to garner support at convention

Last week’s Republican National Convention gathered all of President Trump’s most loyal acolytes to deliver speeches, ranging from the monotonous to the off-the-walls insane. There was a bit more discussion of policy than the Democrats had, though the greatest passion was reserved for more cultural sentiments.

The convention’s speakers fixated on the chaos in the streets of Americans cities, by which they meant the Black Lives Matter protests. These “anarchists” are destroying our beautiful cities, and Democrat mayors and governors are sitting by and letting it happen. Discussion of the actual reason for the national outrage, the murderous American police state, was suspiciously absent. Regardless, the appeal of these sentiments lies not in a desire to protect the cities (most Republican voters hate liberal-infested cities). Rather, it satisfies a libinal urge Republican voters have to see critics of America violently opposed.

This assault on protestors was accompanied by the predictable worship of police officers. The speakers denounced the Biden campaign for seeking to “defund the police,” despite Biden’s platform actually desiring MORE funds be sent to the police for better training. This is irrelevant to them, of course. For Republicans, the police are a force willing to violently suppress rioters, making them true American heroes.

The looming specter of socialism seemed to haunt most of the speeches as well. St. Louis personal injury lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey were inexplicably given spots at the convention after pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protestors. They seemed particularly horrified at the city’s recent election of progressive Cori Bush, calling her a “Marxist revolutionary.” Yet again, the identified threat is, in reality, is an almost powerless political force; Bush is only a single Representative and is certainly not a Marxist revolutionary.

The Republicans seem to believe (or are at least willing to argue) that Biden is controlled by left-wing Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Sanders himself said in an organizing email, “If only that were true.” Any casual observer of the DNC could tell that the Democrats are actually trying to push back from left-wing ideas, but this doesn’t make for an invigorating speech for the Republicans. Regardless of where the Democratic party is ideologically, the Republicans will always accuse the Democrats of being radical socialists. This is not from any genuine concern at their agenda, but rather to exploit the Cold War-esque manufactured fear of socialism in many Americans.

Religion was also a consistent theme, as it usually is. Trump accused Democrats of wanting to end the “American way of life.” Calls to always stand for the anthem abounded. There were multiple speakers who preached the importance of teaching “American exceptionalism” in our schools. Blind patriotism is the norm in this Republican Party, not that this is any different from past ones.

Of course, the modern Republican Party has always used these issues to garner supporters. Using the “Southern strategy” in the 1950s and 1960s, Republicans appealed to white voters through racist support of Jim Crow laws. These tactics are only a means to achieve the true goals of the Republican Party. The Republicans use these cultural signifiers to garner a mass of voters, but it is unrelated to their actual goals. With their political power, they also serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful by providing tax cuts to the rich and funding the military industrial complex. Racism and bigotry are only the tools they use to gain the power they require.

Post Author: Justin Klopfer