Many slated to speak at the Republican National Convention use fear tactics and dark portrayals of the United States to win votes.
Donald Trump has been attacking last week's Democratic National Convention as "the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history," telling Fox News that the GOP convention this week will be a contrast to that event by delivering an "uplifting and positive" message.
However, the list of speakers for the Republican National Convention belies that promise, as it includes people with verifiable records of stoking the culture wars with comments on hot-button issues such as race, immigration, and abortion.
Among those who will speak at the four-day Republican convention are Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a couple from St. Louis who gained notoriety in June when they pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters walking by their property. Both McCloskeys have been charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon, and they have become symbols on the right of what Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called threats "to intimidate and deter" people from owning firearms and using them for self-defense.
Also in the lineup of speakers is Kim Klacik, a Republican running for Congress in Baltimore, Maryland.
Klacik has virtually no chance of winning the district she's running for, a deeply Democratic seat long held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings. However, Klacik went viral with a campaign ad featuring her walking the streets of Baltimore to highlight what she described as "crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes, poverty, and crime." Klacik has a long history of offensive comments, which have included attacks on transgender Americans, single mothers, and people who are overweight.
Other Republicans have been making similar arguments, highlighting problems in what Trump calls "Democrat-run cities."
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, founder of the right-wing nonprofit youth organization Turning Point USA, is another convention speaker. The organization is infamous for holding a protest in which a member of the group wore an adult diaper to make fun of liberals who need "safe spaces."
Mary Ann Mendoza, a board member of "We Build the Wall," the so-called charity whose founders were arrested last week and charged with defrauding its donors, will also speak at the convention. Mendoza's son was killed by an undocumented immigrant, and she has since used a broad brush to paint all immigrants as violent criminals as she argues for reduced immigration to the United States. Data shows that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than do American citizens.
Trump's children, among them Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, also have prominent speaking roles at the convention. Both Trump Jr. and Eric Trump frequently appear on Fox News, where they often push conspiracy theories. Eric Trump has said Democrats are "not even people," while Trump Jr. promotes dangerous lies, including about QAnon, which the FBI has deemed a domestic terror threat.
Ultimately, the Trump campaign has been running a "dark" message for months. It's accused Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of being in cognitive decline, a claim that took a major blow last week when even Republicans admitted that Biden gave a commendable and clear nomination address.
The Trump campaign has been trying to scare Americans into voting for its candidate, including by running one widely mocked ad portraying an elderly woman unable to get through to the police because they have been defunded.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention made the case that the darkness the country finds itself in is due to Trump. Biden said that, as president, he will "be an ally of the light, not our darkness."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.