South Carolina Republican primary: Donald Trump speaks to activists as South Carolina votes in election race


Copyright: Reuters

Image caption: A group of Trump fans hold up signs at the conference in National Harbor, Maryland

This used to be a “big tent” event for conservatives of all stripes;
these days it’s more or less a Trump convention.

An ad repeatedly plays on the
giant plasmas between speeches asking people to vote – not on whom Republicans
should nominate for the election – but simply: “Who should be President Trump’s
vice president!”

I’ve been watching speeches in the event hall and chatting to
delegates beside the Trump bus in the exhibition rooms.

Two big themes keep
coming through: A deep suspicion of multilateral global institutions seen as
trying to destroy national sovereignty; and so-called “wedge” issues that now
form a dominant part of political campaigning – opposition to gender identity,
transgender rights, or abortion for example.

Much of this was pithily projected in the speech by former UKPrime Minister Liz Truss who said: “The very basis of Western civilisation is
being undermined”.

But watching the stage I was struck by how little debate or
challenge was encouraged in the panel events. All political conventions are
tribal, but this one never got much further than a platform for polemics.


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