Jessica Tarlov: On RNC's first night Americans told to be afraid, very afraid of a Biden presidency


Jessica Tarlov: On RNC's first night Americans told to be afraid, very afraid of a Biden presidency

Republicans kicked off their convention Monday and started with a very different task than Democrats did last week.While Democratic presidential no

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Republicans kicked off their convention Monday and started with a very different task than Democrats did last week.

While Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris had to lay out their vision for a different America, President Trump, his allies and supporters, had to make the argument for giving him four more years in the White House.

And if you’re a Trump supporter already, the featured speakers on Monday night did just that.


For those of us who have followed politics closely for the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard the arguments for another Trump term before.

There was nothing groundbreaking or innovative from the big names on Monday night but a compilation of greatest hits.

There was red meat for the base, delivered by familiar faces who have failed to expand the tent previously and didn’t demonstrate much potential to do so from the platform of the convention.

The overarching theme? Scare Americans about the prospect of a Biden presidency.

“They want to destroy this country and everything we have fought for and hold dear,” Trump campaign senior adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle told viewers.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., claimed that the Democrats are the “party that wants to burn down the foundations of our country to the ground.”

Sean Parnell, a U.S. Army combat veteran and GOP candidate for Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district added, “I look across the aisle and I do not see a party that wants you to pursue your dreams.”

As a member of the Democratic party, I can assure you that their comments are riddled with lies. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be effective. Propaganda often is.

Key themes the speakers focused on, in pursuit of scaring Americans, included a focus on America’s virtues, freedom of thought and religion, rule of law, a booming economy, Trump’s support for Black Americans, and the perils of socialized medicine.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk called Donald Trump the “bodyguard of Western civilization.” The future under Trump is one in which people are “grateful and not angry that we live in the United States” and where you can “worship your god without a tyrant getting in the way,” Kirk argued.

Trump as the “law and order” president was a consistent theme throughout the night.

One of the most passionate defenses of him came from Patricia and Mark McCloskey, a St. Louis couple who was photographed wielding guns outside their home as protestors surrounded their neighborhood.

The McCloskeys claimed, incorrectly, that Biden wants to defund the police and abolish the suburbs. The “Democrats no longer view the government’s job to protect citizens” but are instead a bunch of radicals and Marxists, they claimed.

On the world stage, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke about Trump’s diplomatic triumphs and about her time as governor in South Carolina. There was also a videotaped meeting with the president and many of the hostages whose release he has helped to secure since he took office.

When it comes to health care, it was a common refrain that Democrats want socialized medicine in America, even though Biden has rejected “Medicare-for-all.”

Natalie Harp, a bone cancer survivor, decried ObamaCare as a disaster and alleged that if Biden wins the presidency China will control our drug protection and that if Hillary Clinton had won “we’d all be living in a dismal country with no hope of escape except death itself.”


A trio of Black speakers including former NFL player Herschel Walker, House candidate Kim Klacik and Democratic State Representative Vernon Jones made the case that Democrats have been taking Black votes for granted.

Jones offered, “The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave their mental plantation…We’ve been forced to be there for decades and generations. We’ve been forced to be there for decades and generations. But I have news for Joe Biden. We are free, we are free people with free minds.”

And Walker defended Trump against accusations of racism. “Growing up in the Deep South, I’ve seen racism up close. I know what it is. And it isn’t Donald Trump,” Walker said.

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RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel excoriated Democrats for wanting to raise taxes if elected and roll back the economic gains of the Trump era. It’s an attack line that is becoming commonplace.

A small business owner echoed McDaniel’s argument and added that she is “worried we have a generation of Americans who have been told the American dream doesn’t exist” because of Democrats.

And lastly, the president’s son, Donald Jr., told Americans that Democrats are attacking “the very principles on which our nation was founded” including freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and rule of law. “Now the left’s trying to “cancel” all of those founders. They don’t seem to understand this important principle: In order to improve in the future, we must learn from our past–not erase it,” he added.


All in all, this convention undoubtedly kept Trump supporters happy. They saw the people they love and heard about the accomplishments that make them proud. But if you aren’t someone who lives inside the right-wing bubble, much of this evening’s speeches would’ve been more confusing than anything else.

That’s not how you expand the tent, but it is how you scare a lot of people.