Republican Convention 2020

Political Conventions Should Be NC-17

The Reason Roundtable assesses one convention, previews another, and pleads with everyone to get their kids out of politics.


It's the first day of the Republican National Convention, which means that things are already getting pear-shaped. In other words, it's a fitting follow-up to what the Democrats did (and didn't) do last week.

On today's Reason Roundtable podcast, Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward break down the lowlights and strain for some highlights from last week, while previewing the American carnage and straining for upcoming attractions in this week's. The gang also talks about Portland protests, New York City backsliding, school reopenings (and lack thereof), and (of course!) superhero movies.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: 'Come Get With Us' by TrackTribe.

Relevant links from the show:

"The 2020 Republican Convention Doesn't Have a Platform—It Has Trump's Pet Peeves," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Americans Dislike Both Biden and Trump," by J.D. Tuccille

"GOP Hawks Are Turning Out for Biden," by Eric Boehm

"Democratic Convention Recap: Biden and Harris Vow To Make Government Even Bigger," by Justin Monticello

"The Democratic Convention Was a Brief for Biden's Character. Policy Got Left Behind," by Peter Suderman

"What if Joe Biden Were a Libertarian? We Fixed His Acceptance Speech," by Paul Detrick

"A Vote for Joe Biden Is a Vote for a National Mask Mandate, Says Biden," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Did Joe Biden and the Democratic National Convention Forget About Trump's Tariffs?" by Eric Boehm

"Tulsi Gabbard Says the DNC Didn't Even Ask Her To Speak," by Robby Soave

"Are the Democrats Right That We Are Seeing an 'Epidemic of Gun Violence'?" by Jacob Sullum

"Americans Rightly Tune Out the Democratic National Convention," by Nick Gillespie

"Kamala Night at the DNC: The Party Anoints Harris and Brags About Biden's Crime Bill," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Democratic Convention: Dems Want to Stop Gun Violence, but They Can't Say How," by Brian Doherty

"The Democrats Should Not Be Presenting Houston's Police Chief As an Avatar of Reform," by Jacob Sullum

"Democratic Party Platform Calls for End to Drug War, But Not Really," by Scott Shackford

"Big-Spending Biden," by John Stossel

"Michelle Obama Hates Politics and Third Parties, Loves Schmaltz and Unity," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Bernie Sanders Just Gave Joe Biden a Very Expensive Wish List," by Eric Boehm

"When You Say Yes to Hate: Dispatch From Portland," by Nancy Rommelmann

"A Night of Aimlessness, Surrounded by Flames: Dispatch From Portland," by Nancy Rommelmann

"School Reopenings Linked to Union Influence and Politics, Not Safety," by Corey A. DeAngelis

"California Blackouts: It's Not Just the Heat, It's Also the Anti-Nuclear Power Stupidity," by Ronald Bailey

NEXT: Does COVID-19 Strengthen the Case for Medicare for All? A Soho Forum Debate

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The LP convention came close to being NC-17, last time.

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  2. What was wrong with the old X rating?

    Also remember when democrats ran NYC in the 70s and 80s and it was a complete shithole. Then republicans cleaned it and murders went way down. Now dems managed to fuck that up again? But at least they’ll bring back times square theaters for the degenerates to jerk off in.

    1. Give the people what they want!

  3. that would just make 12 year old me want to see it

  4. In effect the conventions are NC>65 just like the primaries.

  5. @40:20 – The nationalist, populist, market-skeptic lurch of the GOP might be partly because of the ideological void Trump will have left, but also because of a shift that’s been brewing for quite some time.

    Here’s the thing:

    1. One of the most prominent shifts of political demographics that’s been happening over the last couple of decades has been the migration of the white working class to the GOP.

    2. As white America has been on the decline as a share of the population, the Republican Party has had two options: a) drop the immigration-restrictionist stance and become more welcoming of the two fastest-growing demographics (Hispanics and Asians) in policy and rhetoric; b) maximize the white vote. Trump’s GOP has opted for (b) by accelerating the already-ongoing white working class migration.

    3. But here’s the problem with (b): the working class, by and large, is nationalistic, populistic, and economically moderate to left-wing.

    And therein lies the GOP seeming shift towards the center on economic issues, and lurch to the right on expressions of nationalism, nativism, and the like. You just can’t have such a sizable proportion of the working class in the your midst and still be clear-cut, Paul-Ryan-style, Reaganite economic conservative, and win.

    That’s “Trumpism” in a nutshell: It’s the inevitable adaptation of the GOP to the growing share of the white working class in its midst.

    Well, I say “inevitable” but it wasn’t really inevitable. If the Republican Party preferred to go the way of courting the more libertarian-leaning members of the Asian and Hispanic communities starting from the Obama era, it would’ve slowed the white working class migration, grown the share of libertarian(-ish) non-whites in its midst, and thus maintained its Reaganite conservatism (at the cost of cutting short all the race and anti-immigration stuff).

    And so that will have to basically be the choice of whoever comes after Trump: Get warmer towards Asians and Hispanics and attract those of them who are fiscally conservative (but are only voting Dem right now out of perceived GOP hostility towards the likes of them*), or drop all pretense of Reaganism and double down on maximizing the white vote which will in turn anchor the party’s “national conservatism” as its philosophy.

    *About 18% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents identify as “economically conservative”. To the GOP, I say, “Those are yours for the taking if you decide to town down the race and anti-immigrant stuff.”

    1. “only voting Dem right now out of perceived GOP hostility towards the likes of them”

      That comes under the heading of “stuff which I certainly would consider nice if it were true.”

      But the Dems have been attracting lots of immigrant voters since the 1790s. They seem to have some experience in this area.

      And even if the Reps convince the 18% that (never mind the debt) the GOP is the economically conservative party and worth voting for on those grounds, then there’s still the remaining 82%.

      1. You don’t need to bring in all of them, not even 18%, but just enough so you close the gap of your dwindling demographic base. Under our system, each party only needs to be appealing to about half the electorate.

        All I’m saying is, you can’t make it your strategy to maximize the white vote and hasten the working-class migration to your party, and then be surprised that the base of your party has shifted more populistic.

        I think the whole “Reagan Democrat” thing was a mistake. Those hard hats and that section of the electorate never voted for Reagan for the trickle-down and size-of-government stuff, but because they liked the GOP’s strong stance on national security, and disliked the Democrats’ growing affinity to feminism, LGBT rights, and their tolerance to things like pornography.

        And the truth is that the Reagan-Democrat migration never really stopped, but continued to steadily trickle only to accelerate when Trump appeared with his anti-immigration, pro-entitlement, anti-trade stances. And now that you have a huge minority (possibly plurality) of them as your base, you have to have clear anti-libertarian streaks to appeal to them and keep them in, these heirs of the populist Democratic Party of yore. That’s all the mystery of the GOP becoming more populistic.

        As to immigrants voting historically left, that’s generally true. But keep in mind, for much of its history, this country has been strongly anti-Catholic as well as anti-Semitic, and that continued well into the 1970s. So you can’t really blame supermajorities of Irish people, for example, for flocking towards the party that seems welcoming to them in a country that’s largely cool towards them.

        Reagan, on the other hand, did about as well with immigrants as he did with natives. And if I’m not mistaken, Bush II even won the Muslim and Arab votes in his first term.

        I don’t have much hope for the black vote, because I think you just can’t compete with talks of reparation, affirmative action, and the 1619 type of race baiting and remain libertarian in any significant sense. But for the rest of nonwhites, I think the GOP has a decent chance of attracting the most fiscally conservative of them if it just toned down the anti-foreigner stuff.

    2. “The race and anti-immigrant stuff”

      Please do provide some examples, because it appears to be imaginary.
      But I guess making things up is how you distract from the explicit racism and explicit anti-Americanism that is the vast majority of the left

      1. So you haven’t noticed that much of right-wing rhetoric as of late has been “illegals this” “illegals that”? They’re supposedly taking our jobs (lump-of-labor fallacy), committing crime (theirs is lower than native crime), they’re getting welfare (fiscally, immigrants are a slight net benefit on the long run). All that talk about that Ilhan Omar going back to where she came (i.e. recent immigrants are not really American), the “shithole countries” (we don’t want no stinkin’ Indians!), talk about banning Muslims (this one cuts to the chase), about Central Americans “invading” America (like they were a foreign army), singling out the MS-13 gang (one among plenty of others American gangs), and just the usual Tucker Carlson stuff of “communities’ changing demographics” (= they’re losing their white majority).

        The anti-immigrant, soft-white nationalism talk is out there every day every time Trump, Tucker Carlson, or Laura Ingraham open their mouths about the immigration issue or anything adjacent to it.

        Or take how very selectively left-wing the populists are: The only people Tucker Carlson gets worked up about are those who lost their industrial jobs in the Heartland, and those dying of pain drug overdoses. Those are the only people he turns left for. On the other hand, when he talks about, say, the homeless (a disproportionately non-white demographic), he talks about them like mainstream conservatives usually do (i.e., as a social nuisance).

        “Selective leftism” is basically the definition of populism. So, remember: When it comes to the mostly-white down and out, it’s a societal failing; when it comes to the mostly-nonwhite down and out, it’s a societal nuisance.

        You don’t think the typical nonwhite or immigrant can see through this? That virtually all the badmouthing from the populist right is directed either to people who look like him (immigrants and the nonwhite poor), or the people who defend the people who look like him (liberals)?

        Not everyone is smart, but most people have built-in intuition about these things, and can easily sense hostility towards their kind wherever it comes from. And right now, it’s coming mainly from the populist right, and it’s repelling a great deal of otherwise conservative nonwhites and immigrants from voting GOP.

      2. By the way, speaking of the out-and-out anti-Americanism and anti-white attitudes of some sections of the left, I don’t think the first- or second-generation Democrat-voting person ascribes to such views. Hating on America is more typical of early-generation brats who take the kind of prosperous society they live in for granted. If you notice, these views typically come from the most fervent white progressives, and to a lesser degree, black ones.

        And this just adds to my case that most first- or second-generation, Democrat-voting immigrants don’t really feel comfortable with these assholes from their party, but at the same time, aren’t willing to jump to the other side because of the hostility towards their kind they sense there.

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  8. So at 17 you can watch dirty movies.

    At 18 you can vote (and smoke? Or did that go up to 21?)

    At 21 you can drink.

    At 26 you have to get your own insurance.

    At 35 you can be President.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this.

    1. Maybe a link to work from home?

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  10. I really think that Nick Gillespie works too hard to try to image some libertarian angle to Trump. Nick try to think of Trump like an iceberg, while your scanning the 10% you see for some good points there is 90% below water ready to crash into your boat and sink it. We have a rising national debt, a pandemic were struggle with, failing tariffs and trade policies, incoherent immigration and foreign policy. But he support school choice, you know it is all for the children.

    1. Trump’s response to the pandemic has been fairly libertarian. His foreign policy has been moderate by Republican (and even Democrat) standards, at least if you measure it mostly by foreign interventionism. And the immigration policy is far from incoherent and actually very clear: “We want less of it.”

      So yes, Trump is bad on trade and immigration, average on spending (didn’t add any big programs) until the coronavirus, and was great on loosening the grip of the regulatory state. And of course, cut taxes.

      You may say tax cuts without spending cuts are just going to be paid by inflation. But inflation can be hedged against on a personal level; much harder to do with higher taxes.

      Trump also kept gun rights largely intact at the federal level. And he partially privatized the Veterans’ Affairs medical services.

      And school choice is no small feat. America spends the most per capita on education in the world. If Trump is setting the tone for state- and local-level Republicans on school choice, then that’s not gonna be good news for the public unions tightening their grip and monopoly on that government service, and endlessly lobbying for tax and spending increases on it.

      1. “Trump’s response to the pandemic has been fairly libertarian.”

        Trump’s response to the pandemic is incompetence not libertarian. Your making the mistake of seeing his response as libertarian when he is looking to benefit himself by trying to get the economy back so he can get reelected. Had he focused on the pandemic the economy would naturally come back. First he ignored it until he could not and after that he tried tries to force a comeback which made things worse. There are libertarian ways to approach the pandemic and he used none of these. First let the scientist and health care professional lead. Don’t insist people follow health recommendations, but rather encourage this. He could say “I will not insist on a mask mandate but I encourage you to use them because they help”. He could ramp up testing and tracing so if lock down are necessary they can be limited.

        They same is true with much of the rest of your argument. Trump is not as much a libertarian as he is incompetent. You get short term liberty at long term expense.

        1. I don’t expect (nor want) the federal government to do much in the way of mandates. I don’t want a president to be able to lock me in my home, for example, make me wear a mask, or shut down my business. Trump didn’t do any of this, which makes it a pretty libertarian (and good) approach to the whole thing.

          What Trump did was supply states with masks and ventilators, ramped up testing, and has been funding vaccine and therapeutics’ research. So overall, I’d say his dealing with it has been good.

          As to him ignoring it, listen, in the beginning, nobody knew how serious it was until Italy was hit hard. When Trump was shutting the border with China, House Democrats were passing legislation to ban flavored tobacco nationally, suggesting even they didn’t think it was going to be that serious at the time. And given all the epidemic scares in years past, I can’t really blame them.

          Re: experts, he did let experts talk. And in that early formal television address of his, he did advise people to wear masks as well as clarify who was most at risk of this.

          Letting the health professionals lead would lead to the more authoritarian approaches to it, because health professionals are the most cautious of all, and still barely want kids to go back to school (at least the national ones).

          Also, the economy is picking up just fine in red states; it’s only sluggish in blue states. Which suggests that it has more to do with those stupid, across-the-board lockdowns than with the disease itself.

        2. “Trump’s response to the pandemic is incompetence not libertarian.”
          Stuff your TDS up your ass, so your head has some company.

    2. “I really think that Nick Gillespie works too hard to try to image some libertarian angle to Trump.”

      Of course you do. It’s your job.

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