This August, both of the United States’ two major political parties held their respective national conventions. The Democratic Party’s convention lasted from August 17th to August 20th, while the Republican convention lasted from August 24th to August 27th.
The goal of these national conventions is generally twofold. First and foremost, these conventions exist to allow the parties to each officially put forth their nomination for president, and each includes speeches from major and minor figures related to the party, with the nominees for president and vice president giving their speeches on their convention’s final day. Secondly, these conventions are usually where parties put forth their platforms for the election—usually a stated list of principles and aspirations designed to mobilize people into supporting the party.
This year’s presidential race is already proving to be as politically polarized and charged as the 2016’s. While polls generally favor Joe Biden as the victor, the same was said of Clinton in 2016, an election Trump won in a startling upset that left many Democratic voters in shock. The conventions this year are the first symptom of a race that will likely prove as tense as it is combative.
The Democratic platform this year has highly emphasized the importance of a strong COVID-19 response, but there were no real surprises in any of its other policies. There were also no real surprises from the Republican platform, at least not in terms of their ideological preferences. But perhaps one of the greatest shocks to come out of the entire thing was the fact that the Republican Party did not announce a new platform at all for 2020, instead reusing their platform from 2016.
A resolution released by the Republic National Committee explains this decision in part as a result of the fact that “it did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement” but ultimately concludes that they would have “undoubtedly unanimously agreed to reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration.” They also condemn the media for “outrageously misrepresenting” their choice not to choose a new platform.
Outrageous or not, the Republic National Committee was right that their choice not to pick a new platform would prove controversial in the media, and many Democrats took a more skeptical view of the Republican Party’s claims. WBUR, an NPR-affiliated public radio station owned by Boston University, interviewed Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent for Politico, who said, “If you have a party that announces now, we don’t need a platform; we don’t need a statement of our vision; we don’t need a statement of our principles; we don’t need a statement of even our most aspirational, unrealistic goals. We don’t need to put them on paper because nobody needs to know. What they need to know is that we are in power and that we support the guy in power.”
Other issues have popped up as well. Trump and his supporters have been quick to try and attack Biden’s mental acuity, calling him “Sleepy Joe.” Meanwhile, the RNC has faced accusations that they tricked New York tenants into an RNC video appearance without their knowledge.
Adding to the political slapfight is the narrative that both parties are pushing: that the other party’s vision for America is a peril to the people. Trump and Pence have both falsely claimed that Biden supports defunding police departments (something which Biden has explicitly stated that he is against.) Both of them have also cautioned against electing Biden on the basis of the protests currently occurring across the country, suggesting that the protests—and allegations of looting and rioting—are being carried out by Biden supporters, which they are touting as evidence that a Biden presidency will make America more dangerous.
Biden has responded to such allegations swiftly. At one point, he tweeted, “Remember: every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch. Under his leadership. During his presidency.” At another, he spoke to Anderson Cooper from CNN, saying: “The problem we have right now is we’re in Donald Trump’s America.”
WBUR, The GOP Won’t Introduce A New Party Platform For 2020. So What Does It Stand For? (includes a copy of Republican National Committee’s Statement): https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/08/25/gop-no-platform-2020-trump