Watching Donald Trump accept the Republican Party’s nomination for November’s United States Presidential election gives one a chilly sense of deja vu.
His line is straight out of the National Party’s apartheid era playbook in South Africa.
He tells potential supporters that whatever they might think of him the alternative presented by his challenger Joe Biden is too ghastly to contemplate.
Having presided over more deaths of Americans this year than were killed in the First World War, one might well ask who those potential supporters are?
The resentful rednecks remain with him as strongly now as they did five years ago.
They are buttressed by unsophisticated young voters who see him as a maverick anti-establishment figure.
No point trying to persuade them that as President, Trump is now very much the man responsible for what is happening in Washington.
Their job as the youth is to reject the values espoused by their elders.They are drawn to Trump rejected qualities like honesty, modesty and honour in scores of cheap and mendacious tweets
Picking a sturdy, reliable figure that might appeal to their parents would be anathema to them. Remember the ANC Youth League elevating Julius Malema?
The suburban housewives who made the difference in Trump’s initial victory are not a sure thing.
So it is at them that he levels the darkest, most frightening charges against his opponent Joe Biden.
Trump, like the apartheid regime, knows that fighting an election on the facts guarantees a very short road to defeat.
So he has to create an alternate reality. A place of fear.
The man that promised in 2016 to fix the cities has now abandoned them as places overrun by black and brown voters who oppose him.
He vows now to fix the suburbs in the mistaken belief that these are populated by the same white housewives who could be frightened seventy years ago.
One might have thought that Trump could boast that after four years of his rule, America is a relatively peaceful place.
He is forced to admit, however, that under his watch the streets have become dangerous, indeed terrifying.
The alternative is to answer to charges that he has failed to show leadership in the fight against COVID 19 which is the gravest threat American has faced in this generation.
That is where Joe Biden has to keep the focus until November 3.
He has to use the figures to nail Tump’s lie, uttered at the Republican National Convention, that the pandemic is virtually over.
The medical emergency persists and the economic damage that Trump also minimizes takes a terrible toll on the lives of millions of voters who have lost jobs, health car and housings and are asking: “What are you doing for us?”