How Donald Trump is draining the red, white and blue right out of the GOP

Aug 1, 2016 at 12:53 p.m. ET
Image: Joe Mahoney/Getty Images

If you caught last week's Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention the week prior to it, you might have noticed something strange indeed. Democrats these days are acting more Republican than the Republicans, as John Oliver pointed out on Last Week Tonight. From retired Marine, four-star General John Allen, endorsing Hillary Clinton to the crowd of supporters chanting, "USA! USA!" as he spoke, to the countless waving American flags and even Vice President Joe Biden's impassioned, "We are American, second to none, and we own the finish line — come on, we’re America!" Democrats couldn't be blamed for wondering if they had accidentally climbed into a time machine and stumbled into the RNC's Cleveland conference center.

But, alas, since there was no angry Scott Baio, angry Antonio Sabato Jr., classy Ivanka Trump (because she was the RNC's saving grace) and irate, fire-breathing Donald Trump declaring that he, and only he, can fix all that is wrong with America, they could breathe again. Democrats, Oliver reminds us, are rapidly becoming known as the more patriotic of the two parties because of their message of hope, love and respect for country and its military, their promise to heal wounds among groups who feel divided — and because Trump is a narcissistic, unapologetically angry force who is causing the greatest of rifts within his own party and the entire country.

After Muslim U.S. Army Captain Khizr Khan gave a moving speech about his son, who received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart and was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq, in which he questioned whether Trump has even read the United States Constitution before pulling a portable version of the document from his pocket.

"Oh shit," Oliver responded. "That is an American founding document being inspirationally used as a middle finger. I did not know that was technically possible."

Khan, of course, then said Trump has never sacrificed anything, an insult that led the Republican nominee to show his ego and inability to handle any criticism by striking back with, "If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."

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Oliver hones in on the cult of Trump — and his hateful rhetoric — as one of the reasons why "the Republican Party doesn't seem to currently exist," as he put it. Because, let's remember, when you have a potential leader who views himself as the one and only, there is very little room for anyone else.

"Almost everything that you would expect from the GOP convention was absent," Oliver said. "Many prominent Republicans chose to skip it, as did both living Republican former presidents [George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush]. And for the party of Reagan, the tone was unusually and relentlessly angry. "

After showing a clip in which Trump tells the audience America has suffered one humiliation after another, Oliver made it clear that the businessman was looking outward instead of inward.

"What is he even talking about?" Trump said. "Only one major international humiliation from recent history comes to mind and it's the one standing behind that podium."

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Of course, Trump's many claims that America needs to be made great again because it simply isn't just left the door wide open for Democrats to convince voters they aren't fighting for a lost cause — that things can always be better, but that we live in one of the greatest nations on the planet and we should never lose sight of that. Which leads us back to the original point: Trump is the reason why the GOP seems to have lost a lot of that red, white and blue sparkle that defined them.

"The reason the Republican Party essentially forgot to celebrate America this year might be because they were too busy celebrating Donald Trump's claims that he would fix whatever Donald Trump thinks is wrong with America," Oliver said.

Because the Republican Party now seems to be organized around one man, rather than a shared set of principles, Trump's judgment is the most important thing when considering who to vote for, Oliver said, which makes all of the many, many questionable and downright insane or racist things he has said mean so much more.

"Trump hasn't said one crazy thing, he has said thousands of crazy things, each of which blunts the effect of the others," Oliver said. "It's the bed-of-nails principle. If you step on one nail, it hurts you. If you step on a thousand nails, no single one stands out and you're fine. That is how Donald Trump has managed to say pretty much anything in this campaign, seemingly without consequence."

Oliver called Trump, and his defense in response to Khan saying he hasn't sacrificed by listing so-called "sacrifices" like creating jobs and wealth and structures, nothing more than "self-serving half-truths from a self-serving half-man that has somehow convinced half the country that sacrifice is the same thing as success."

But Oliver saved his most truthful, raw and greatest Trump criticism for the very end.

"Honestly, the main take away from these two weeks is that, incredibly, we may be on the brink of electing such a damaged, sociopathic narcissist that the simple presidential duty of comforting the families of fallen soldiers may actually be beyond his capabilities. And I genuinely did not think that was the part of the job that someone could be bad at."

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