Donald Trump brought his brand of feel-good fascism back to Louisville to receive an endorsement from National Rifle Association leaders and to speak to its national convention.
Trump’s half-hour ramble Friday was a collection of unsubstantiated claims and fantastical promises. His juiciest morsel for the crowd was a baseless claim that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton plans to “abolish” the Second Amendment.
The rest was free-range Trump:
“We’re going to build the wall. It’s going to be a great wall.”
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“We’re going to make our military bigger and better and stronger than ever before and nobody is going to push us around.”
“We’ll get rid of Obamacare. We’ll have a great, great plan as a substitute.”
“We’re in Kentucky, and we’re going to put the miners back to work.”
“Every country in the world is ripping off our great country, like children, like taking candy from a baby. Our trade deals will be renegotiated. We’re going to have great trade agreements.”
“We’re going to start winning again,” he concluded. “We are going to win, win, win. We’re going to win at everything. Some of you are friends and you’re going to call, you’re going to say … Mr. President you’re driving us crazy, you’re winning too much! Please, Mr. President, not so much. And I’m going to say, ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning.’”
Republican leaders used to be appalled by this narcissistic demagogue. Now, they’re lining up to support him. Like Trump, the only thing they care about is winning.
As the camera panned the audience, I saw a lot of good people — people who look like my neighbors, like people I have known all my life. They like guns, and I would bet they all are responsible owners and users of them. But on the Freedom Hall stage in front of them was a non-stop, high-tech parade of paranoia.
“Our core values, our freedom, eroding and slipping away,” NRA boss Wayne LaPierre warned. “Our country and what it stands for is disappearing. We in this room, we are America!”
The NRA was founded after the Civil War to promote firearms proficiency, safety and responsibility. But since the 1970s, it has become a huge lobby that makes politicians cower and reaps millions in donations by scaring gun owners into thinking that any restriction is a first step toward gun confiscation and tyranny.
The NRA distorts patriotism, Christianity and respect for police and the military into a worship of weapons that has helped fuel a national carnage of more than 10,000 gun deaths a year. One of the NRA’s main goals now is to outlaw “gun-free zones” at places such as stores and schools.
LaPierre and NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox worked up the crowd before introducing Trump by claiming Clinton is a criminal who should be jailed. Never mind that she has never been charged with a crime, much less convicted. I guess judicial process doesn’t matter when you are devoted to promoting lethal force.
The program made frequent inferences that Clinton was to blame for the 2012 deaths of four diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. Never mind that Republicans in Congress have poured millions of dollars and countless hours into politically motivated “investigations” that have found no such thing.
The NRA proceedings contained constant appeals to “freedom,” but no mention of freedom from fear that a crazy neighbor will shoot your child because he can legally amass the biggest home arsenal he can afford.
There was a lot of talk about the threat of Islamic terrorism, but no mention of the fact that toddlers who got hold of guns have killed more Americans than Islamic terrorists have in recent years.
The NRA’s biggest fear is that a president it doesn’t control will appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn two recent 5-4 decisions. In those cases, an activist court majority ignored the first half of the Second Amendment to strengthen the second: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The late Chief Justice Warren Burger, a staunch conservative appointed by Richard Nixon, once described efforts to make the Second Amendment an individual right “the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen.”
As Bevin finished his remarks with an impassioned endorsement of Trump and NRA policies, he invoked the biblical warning from Ezekiel 33:6 known as “the watchman on the wall.”
“It doesn’t do any good if we see what’s coming and don’t sound the alarm,” he said.
But Bevin has it wrong. Trump’s cult of personality and the NRA’s dream of guns everywhere will not make America great. In fact, they are among its biggest threats.