Via Twitter on May 25, President Trump threatened to relocate the August Republican National Convention from its currently-designated Charlotte, NC, site unless North Carolina – governed by Roy Cooper, a Democrat – agrees to relax its social distancing restrictions sufficiently to allow a late August close gathering of what has been estimated to be about 50,000 people. In his tweet, the President lamented the “jobs and economic development” that would be lost to North Carolina due to such a move. At the time this is typed, the state is pondering its response.
A sly ploy. If North Carolina – a true 2020 swing state — holds fast to its current reopening approach — which the state administration presumably considers safest for its people — and the Republicans transfer their convention to either Georgia or Florida – both, with salivating Republican Governors eager to boost their respective political standings severely damaged by their mishandling of the Coronavirus – many North Carolinians will blame Gov. Cooper for their lost revenue, and their sentiment may well swing the electoral votes of North Carolina from former Vice President and putative Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden to Mr. Trump. If Mr. Cooper capitulates to Mr. Trump, and COVID-related infections and deaths meaningfully increase in North Carolina following the convention, Mr. Trump will certainly somehow blame Mr. Cooper.
No one can deny the President’s genius at mass media manipulation. Although I have agreed with those analysts opining over the years that Mr. Trump’s ongoing rallies have been as much about psyching himself up as influencing his supporters, and acknowledge that his insistence upon a full Convention almost certainly – in addition to politically sticking it in the eye of Gov. Cooper — contains an element of defiant affirmation of his Coronavirus approach, his demand for a jam-packed hall may involve something more fundamental. While any gathering of a political, religious, or business group – certainly including the Democrats — is in part intended to stir the attendees’ enthusiasm, Mr. Trump intuitively understands that inciting fervor among the Republican convention crowd (remember “Lock Her Up”) – which, through the projection of mass media, will virtually incorporate his nationwide adherents – is crucial to reinforcing the allegiance of those of his followers whose support polls show is wavering due to his bungling of the federal Coronavirus response. If Mr. Trump can’t maintain the spell: he loses.
“The mass meeting is … necessary for the reason that in it the individual, who at first, while becoming a supporter of a young movement, feels lonely and easily succumbs to the fear of being alone, for the first time gets the picture of a larger community, which in most people has a strengthening, encouraging effect. …
But the community of the great demonstration not only strengthens the individual, it also unites and helps create an esprit de corps. The man who is exposed to grave tribulations, as the first advocate of a new doctrine … absolutely needs that strengthening which lies in the conviction of being a member and fighter in a great comprehensive body. And he obtains an impression of this body for the first time in the mass demonstration. When … he feels very small, he steps for the first time into a mass meeting and has thousands and thousands of people of the same opinions around him, when … he is swept away by three or four thousand others into the mighty effect of suggestive intoxication and enthusiasm, when the visible success and agreement of thousands confirm to him the rightness of the new doctrine and for the first time arouse doubt in the truth of his previous conviction – then he himself has succumbed to the magic influence of what we designate as ‘mass suggestion.’ The will, the longing, and also the power of thousands are accumulated in every individual. The man who enters such a meeting doubting and wavering leaves it inwardly reinforced: he has become a link to the community.” [Emphasis in Original]
- Adolph Hitler: Mein Kampf