CLEVELAND - In front of an unusually rowdy and emotional Republican crowd Monday night, the first evening of the GOP national convention set the stage for a different kind of presidential election. In the past, the two parties and their candidates have mostly argued and debated because they believed in vastly different ideas.
This year, it seems the candidates and parties will bitterly argue, because they push vastly different facts, so much so that they practically live in different worlds.
And mostly, the GOP convention attendees were cheering in seemingly unanimous agreement for a set of facts that are simply untrue.
In the world of the GOP as presented Monday night, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a criminal because of the American deaths in Benghazi and her explanation of them, and because of her personal email server and handling of classified material. “Lock her up,” the crowd chanted, and speakers, most notably retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, chanted along.
Democrats will say she’s done nothing wrong, or nothing wrong enough to merit prosecution.
This, particularly with the emails, is close to an unsolvable argument. The laws are complex, the situation fairly new, the precedents weak.
But most of the disagreements the GOP speakers set up are much clearer, as is the truth. A video shown Monday portrayed immigrants here illegally as a source of tremendous violent crime. Several speakers whose family members had been killed by immigrants here illegally reinforced the argument, which Donald Trump has pushed repeatedly.
But statistics show undocumented workers commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens.
The GOP also presented a world in which police officers are unfailingly noble and righteous and never malicious, or even at fault when people are hurt or killed. Speaker after speaker spoke for the police, but not one mentioned a single unarmed civilian killed by police.
“When they come to save your life, they don’t ask if you are black or white,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said of the nation’s police. “They just come and save you.”
That’s often true, but not always. Young, unarmed black men have been killed by cops in this country, often on video.