Chris Christie Bashing Hillary Clinton Wasn't What Made His Speech Terrifying
The second night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was widely regarded as better than the first. Donald Trump officially became the nominee of the GOP without any hiccups, and there was no Melania Trump speech-plagiarizing-type kerfuffle (early reports of similar cribbing by Donald Trump, Jr., were dismissed by his speechwriter, who had quoted his own work). However, we also saw several fiery attacks on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whose name was mentioned by speakers three times more often than Trump's, according to Vox. The most troubling of these mentions came during New Jersey Governor and scorned Trump VP suitor Chris Christie's speech.
It is worth mentioning that Ben Carson's tenuous allegation that a mentor of Clinton's is associated with Lucifer is also troubling, though in a more contained way.
Christie's speech established that he was a former federal prosecutor, and then set out to list "charges" against Clinton, including actions taken by the State Department during her tenure there, as well as the lingering scandal regarding her private email server. What made the speech such a barn burner for delegates — and such a spine-chilling event for me — was Christie's refrain. After listing each charge, he asked the raucous crowd: "Guilty or not guilty?" To which the RNC attendees gleefully replied, "GUILTY!"
Now, I can understand someone who believes that Clinton shouldn't have gotten off so easily on the email scandal, and that she should receive the same scrutiny and due process as anyone else. (I might point out to this hypothetical person that if after eight congressional investigations and several other inquiries, maybe Clinton has received plenty of scrutiny.)
But what Christie created in the Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night amounted to nothing more than a political lynch mob — just replace the pitchforks and torches with Trump-Pence signs and silly hats. He wasn't advocating for the application of impartial blind justice, he was whipping up a crowd by presenting a single side of an argument, and cloaking it in the notion that he was executing a fair administration of the law.
Sure, you say, but this is a political convention: isn't the whole purpose of this event to get people excited and fired up?
The answer is, of course, yes, but Christie wasn't just getting people fired up: he was fanning the flames of hatred. He was (purposefully, I'd argue) confusing real, actual, painstaking justice for emotional, vindictive, violent revenge.
In the end, Christie was encouraging Republicans to vote from their gut rather than their brains. He was using the rhetoric of the courts to make it seem like his charges against Clinton were based in evidence, when, in fact, much of his speech has since been debunked.
What liberal watchers of the RNC should take away from Christie's speech is that the Republicans are making this election about emotions rather than reality (how else does someone like Trump get the nomination?). In the end, the vote in November may, more than anything, come down to a referendum of feelings versus facts.