Wednesday, August 26, 2020

In second day of RNC, Trump tries to strengthen rural ties; religion writer sees a blend of economic, religious themes

On Tuesday, the second day of the Republican National Convention, President Trump's campaign made concerted efforts to appeal to strengthen ties with rural voters.

"On a night touting Trump's efforts to boost the economy, Jason Joyce, an eighth-generation lobster fisherman, praised the president for renegotiating tariffs on lobsters with the European Union — and criticized Barack Obama for creating a national marine monument off the New England coast," Dino Grandoni reports for The Washington Post

The Republican Party highlighted miners' concerns too. "Robert Vlaisavljevich, the mayor of Eveleth, a small town in Minnesota’s iron-mining region, said he is a lifelong Democrat now voting Trump," Grandoni reports. "Trump lost Minnesota by only 45,000 votes in the 2016 election, but former pro-labor Democratic strongholds in iron mining region have shown a growing affinity for Trump who has loosened up mining regulations and promised new jobs, Politico reported earlier this year." Vlaisavljevich said that Democrat Joe Biden allows "radicals" such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to create his environmental policy, which he conflated with the Green New Deal.

A rancher spoke during a segment featuring small-business owners. He "said his family stopped ranching after regulations became 'overbearing' but he had new hope under Trump," Grandoni reports.

Biden won't win the overall rural vote, but he's closer to Trump in rural areas than Hillary Clinton was in the 2016 election. But every rural vote may be critical for Trump, who lost the popular vote but won because of electoral votes decided in a handful of rural and blue-collar areas.

The economic messages were blended with social issues. It was a night of "God and mammon," Jeff Sharlet, founder of The Revealer, writes for Vanity Fair. "There’s a word used by the more esoteric Christian nationalists for this particular blend of theology and economics: theonomy. Others call it, more simply, “biblical capitalism,” an idea that, after a lifetime of religious indifference, perhaps comes naturally to a man who now names as his two favorite books The Art of the Deal and the Bible."

Sharlet concludes, "Liberalism’s too-common mistake is to suppose that Trump’s presidency remains transactional. That appeals can still be made to reasonable businessmen or to people of honest faith, that within conservatism remain constituencies bound together in an uneasy marriage, troubled, as they were in the past, by that which each faction, business people and believers, once saw as the party’s concessions to the crudities, impracticalities, or absurdities of the other. That’s how Trumpism began. What this Republican convention has revealed more starkly than before is what it has become: a fusion, a biblical capitalism of apocalyptic tendencies."

As far as fact-checking the second night, here's some of what The Associated Press had to say:
  • First Lady Melania Trump claimed her husband was the first president to address the United National General Assembly to advocate for religious freedom. That is false; President Barack Obama did that in a 2012 speech, as did several predecessors.
  • Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump inherited "a stagnant economy on the front end of recession" and that under Trump, "the economy was rebuilt in three years." That's untrue, AP reports. The economy was healthy when Trump was inaugurated, with low unemployment, steady job growth and a falling federal budget deficit on top. It benefited from the 2017 tax cuts, but the budget deficit climbed, and the current recession will "probably leave Trump with an inferior track record to his predecessor over four years."
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump had ended "ridiculously unfair trade deals with China that punched a hole in our economy." That's misleading, AP says. It's too soon to judge whether Trump's limited trade agreement with China is a winner, but, "whatever the weaknesses of the trade deals Trump inherited, it’s become clear that what he negotiated instead is not a gamechanger," AP reports. "The trade war that Trump escalated with China caused several self-inflicted wounds. Farmers and factories were part of the collateral damage from the volley of tariffs as the two largest countries in the world jockeyed for an edge."

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