Trump Paints A Dark Picture of Anarchy Under 'Biden's America.' But What is Trump's America?

This summer, in which Donald Trump was president, there has been unrest in many cities. Some of it turned violent.

The only way to stop the unrest is to re-elect Donald Trump.

That was the central argument of many speakers' "law and order" rhetoric at the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week. The notion was amplified by Trump himself Thursday night during a 70-minute speech on the White House lawn, in which he warned of a dark and dangerous future for America if Joe Biden is elected president.

"No one will be safe in Biden's America," Trump told roughly 1,500 guests packed onto the South Lawn. "On November 3, we will make America safer. We will make America stronger. We will make America prouder. And we will make America greater than ever before."

In 2016, then-candidate Trump vowed that he—and he alone—could prevent America from plummeting into a violent dystopia by being elected as a "law and order" president.

"I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police," Trump said during his 2016 RNC speech. "When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order in our country."

Now that it's "Trump's America," however, the president and the GOP offer an addendum when they talk of "mobs," "anarchists," and "rioters" who are "flooding our streets": It's the Democrats' fault. Warnings about a lawless society under Biden are bolstered by Trump and his allies with events that have taken place under Trump's watch, contradicting the Republicans' own messaging strategy.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination for reelection during the final day of the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn of the White House on August 27 in Washington, DC. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

"We can never have a situation where things are going on as they are today, we must never allow mob rule," Trump said Thursday. "In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities all, like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago and New York, many others, Democrat-run."

Republican political strategist Susan Del Percio believed Trump is following an established script.

"Once again, as a president, he's refusing to take responsibility where we are as a country, whether it's this important moment in social justice or coronavirus," Del Percio said. "Donald Trump thinks by talking like that, he'll appeal to people and be tough on crime, which is part of an ongoing Republican message."

The violence and crime theme permeated this year's RNC. Nearly a dozen speakers sounded the alarm against "mobs" that "torch our cities" and threaten the very safety of American's daily lives. There was little mention of the racial justice movements that have erupted amid the killing of black men by law enforcement, or the acknowledgement that protesters' messages go beyond the left-wing push by some to "defund the police."

Trump has deployed federal officials to several cities across the country this summer—the most recent being Kenosha, Wisconsin—to "restore law and order." The reason Trump's strategy is flawed, said Del Percio, is because the latest rhetoric is a continuation of the president refusing to accept blame and putting it onto others.

But the tactic, argued GOP strategist John Feehery, is one aimed at winning over a particular cohort of the American electorate: families worried about their children's safety, especially mothers. The only issue is that Trump needs to fine-tune his message, Feehery said.

"It needs to be much more nuanced," Feehery said. "Rather than 'radicals' and 'Marxists,' he needs to be more specific about who's destroying people's communities. This is not a racial thing at all, and the president needs to make clear it's not. Antifa is the real issue. A lot of the lawless folks are white."

From Trump's former attorney and Capitol Hill friends to family members and party allies, the "law and order" theme was front and center at the RNC.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump (C) reacts as he stands with his family members after delivering his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House August 27 in Washington, DC. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"It is clear that a vote for Biden and the Democrats creates the risk that you will bring this lawlessness to your city, town or suburb," said Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney and former New York City mayor. "It can come to where you live. Vote for President Trump and he will fight to preserve your safety, and to protect the American way of life."

The message was clear throughout the RNC: Democrats are responsible for crime, violence—even "mob rule."

"Look at what's happening in America's cities—all run by Democrats," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the president's closest Capitol Hill confidants. "Crime, violence, mob rule. Democrats refuse to denounce the mob."

The convention was far from the first time the Trump campaign has used the contradictory messaging of highlighting events under his own presidency to warn of potential life under a Biden presidency. Campaign ads have featured footage from George Floyd protests this summer that turned violent to make the argument that such events could only occur if Biden is elected.

"Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists and agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens," Trump said Thursday night. "And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life or whether we will allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it."

Lara Trump, a campaign adviser, vowed in her speech that her father-in-law will "restore our American way of life" and "keep our children safe."

In his remarks, Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA, labeled Trump as the "bodyguard of western civilization" who "was elected to protect our families—our loved ones—from the vengeful mob that wishes to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, church and values."

"The hard truth is," Vice President Mike Pence warned Wednesday night, "you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America."