A fitting reflection of Donald Trump’s turbulent character, this week’s Republican National Convention has been full of unforeseen incidents and party disunity. With revolts on the convention floor and incidents of plagiarism both happening on the very first day, the RNC is turning out to be a very heated event.
The convention is a gathering that takes place every four years in which party delegates and officials from each state meet to formally elect a presidential nominee. During the past six months, delegates have been elected by registered party voters through a primary process and, in most cases, are bound to vote for the candidate that their electorate chooses.
This year, the RNC is being held in Cleveland, Ohio and – because of primary elections – Donald Trump had enough delegate votes to become the 2016 Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday. However, as many are aware, Trump’s rise to prominence has been slathered with controversy and criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Going into the convention, many of Trump’s own party members have either refused to support, or qualified their support of, the nominee, notably Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, and John Kasich, Governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate. Additionally, many delegates attending the convention disdain Trump’s candidacy and instead believe Ted Cruz to be the rightful nominee. Arguably, today’s party division is more accentuated now than ever in the history of the Republican Party.
So, when some anti-Trump delegates attempted to hold a state-by-state roll call on the rules of the convention – which would have stalled the event and flustered the Trump campaign – many were not surprised. Though the move was essentially destined to fail, it reveals the undercurrent of disunity within the modern Republican Party and the popular outrage against Trump’s nomination.
When asked about Republicans who do not support Trump, Nina Spinello, an Exeter Summer School student and Trump supporter, commented that – with the possibility of a Clinton presidency – Republicans should unite with Trump. “Would you rather have someone who lies or someone who isn’t a politician and isn’t corrupt?” she said, implying that Hillary Clinton is a corrupt politician.
Later on, another controversial event occurred, this time involving Trump’s wife, Melania. While giving her keynote address, Mrs. Trump repeatedly used phrases which bore remarkable similarities to Michelle Obama’s address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. After analysis, many experts are now charging Mrs. Trump with plagiarism, a huge blow to the credibility of the Trump campaign.
Though I do not agree with the apparent plagiarism – it is completely unethical – I do not think that the action will have any major, long term consequences for the Trump campaign. This is not because I don’t think plagiarism is a serious offense, but rather because this is merely one small incident in a historical campaign riddled with unprecedented political incorrectness. When we look back, Mrs. Trump’s actions will simply be blended in with everything else her husband has said over the past year.
Additionally, those who are voting for Trump most likely will not be deterred by Mrs. Trump’s actions. Some, like Spinello, don’t even consider Mrs. Trump’s actions plagiarism in the first place. “I don’t think that it is plagiarism to want to educate and give kids good values,” she said, referencing the encouraging words Obama – and now Mrs. Trump – have said about American youth.
In the end however, the Republican Party is still far more divided than its Democratic counterpart. With candidate Bernie Sanders endorsing Clinton last week, and the Democratic National Committee adopting a few of his ideas to the national platform, Democrats look far more united than Republicans. With next week’s Democratic National Convention approaching, voters may find the stability and professionality of that party more attractive than that of the Republicans.
As the RNC lasts until Thursday, new stories about the convention may unfold and things may change. If the Republicans want to have a good chance in the general election – which they currently don’t – they need to unify their party this week and show voters that they are a cohesive unit. Unfortunately, however, I don’t think that unification will be achieved and, at this point, Hillary Clinton has a fairly clear path to the White House.