Depend upon it, if Alexander Lukashenko had been minded to stage a re-election convention instead of just going ahead and winning by a landslide, the Belarusian strongman would have modelled it on Donald Trump’s 2020 event.
Out of habit or perhaps for propriety’s sake (or may be out of fear of legal challenge by the litigious Mr Trump) the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina is being described as the Republican Party’s usual four-yearly, pre-election, publicity blitz.
In actual fact, it’s not the Republican National Convention so much as the Trump convention, a four-day paean to Donald Trump, his family, his thoughts, dreams and his greatness.
On every single day of the convention, Mr Trump will keep the focus on himself, only occasionally sharing the limelight with someone else who bears the surname “Trump”.
At least one person from Mr Trump’s family will speak on each of the four nights of the convention. There will also be conservative congressional allies of Mr Trump, a few Republicans with an eye on the presidency for 2024 (Nikki Haley, Tom Cotton) and assorted gun-toting folks who would sooner shoot an anti-racism protestor dead than allow them to vent.
There will be no one who challenged or challenges Mr Trump nor upset his wife and children.
In other echoes of Mr Lukashenko and the garden variety of strongman, speakers at the Trump convention will offer much legend and myth, notably that Mr Trump has done a good job fighting the coronavirus crisis.
Of course, even if Mr Lukashenko had wanted a variant of the Trump convention, it wouldn’t really have the same sort of effect on the wider world. Few beyond the Russians, Poles, Lithuanians etc would probably watch it because Belarus (and Mr Lukashenko) don’t matter in the general scheme of things in the way of the United States and Mr Trump.