Hours before Donald Trump’s schedule nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the press released a full copy of the text of his speech. That speech was powerfully written and wide-ranging in its critique of America’s problems – it touched on virtually all the victims of the left’s political dominance for the past several decades.
The speech text is, in fact, quite brilliant.
It was short on solutions to the problems America faces – as always, that’s the sticking point for Trump. He’s always been half of a great doctor: terrific diagnosis, awful prescriptions. He’s Dr. House when it comes to diagnosis; he’s Dr. Demento when it comes to solutions. He’ll tell you correctly that you have cancer, then advise you to shove your head in a cotton gin.
But he didn’t bother with prescription in his speech text.
That makes the speech a pretty spectacular barnburner.
Trump leaned heavily on a crucial theme: law and order. This is smart politicking – the best way for Republicans to win in blue areas is to run against the high-crime policies of Democrats (see Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan, for example). “Together,” Trump’s speech began, “we will lead our party back to the White House, and we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace. We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order.”
Then he dinged Hillary for her failures to grasp the real risks of the moment: threat to life and limb thanks to attacks on police officers and jihadist attacks in the heart of the country:
Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.
Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims.
I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.
The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.
This is excellent, hard-hitting stuff. Trump cannot guarantee safety, of course, but he can guarantee that he’ll take safety seriously. Hillary obviously will not. She’s too busy catering to the cop-hating Black Lives Matter movement and pretending that jihadism is less a threat than gun ownership.
I will present the facts plainly and honestly. We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore. So if you want to hear the corporate spin, the carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths the Democrats are holding their convention next week. But here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else.
He then launched into a list of statistics: homicide increases in America’s major cities, police officers murdered, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants with criminal records “roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.” He cited the murder of Sarah Root by an illegal immigrant, then added, “to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”
Again, tremendously effective stuff.
Then Trump moved on to the economy.
There, he laid out another litany of statistics about America’s untold economic crisis, particularly among minority Americans. He summed up:
Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000. Our manufacturing trade deficit has reached an all-time high – nearly $800 billion in a single year. The budget is no better. President Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing. Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in Third World condition, and forty-three million Americans are on food stamps.
Then he moved his diagnostic needle to foreign affairs. Again, Trump’s diagnosis was spot-on: he blasted the Iran deal, Obama’s red-line Syria policy, the Libya mess. His attack on Hillary here was particularly pointed:
Libya was cooperating. Egypt was peaceful. Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Syria was under control. After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the world. Libya is in ruins, and our Ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos.
Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis that now threatens the West. After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before.
This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness.
Then Trump dropped his rhetorical bombshell, the undoubted theme of his campaign: he is America’s voice:
The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect. This will all change in 2017. The American People will come first once again…I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice. I AM YOUR VOICE.
This is actually a brilliant slogan. Even Americans who dislike Trump find themselves nodding along at some of the things he says – they get the feeling that he’s their id, the fellow who will say the things they wish they could. Trump knows that.
He continued along those lines:
I have embraced crying mothers who have lost their children because our politicians put their personal agendas before the national good. I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens.
When innocent people suffer, because our political system lacks the will, or the courage, or the basic decency to enforce our laws – or worse still, has sold out to some corporate lobbyist for cash – I am not able to look the other way.
And when a Secretary of State illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence – I know that corruption has reached a level like never before.
When the FBI Director says that the Secretary of State was “extremely careless” and “negligent,” in handling our classified secrets, I also know that these terms are minor compared to what she actually did. They were just used to save her from facing justice for her terrible crimes.
In fact, her single greatest accomplishment may be committing such an egregious crime and getting away with it – especially when others have paid so dearly. When that same Secretary of State rakes in millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers I know the time for action has come.
This is spectacular. Truly. Linking Hillary Clinton with an elite group that doesn’t care about ordinary Americans hits directly at her weak point: the creeping feeling that she doesn’t give a damn about anybody but herself. Trump is right here, 100 percent.
Trump, as I’ve said for months, is a hammer in search of a nail. His speechwriters directed the hammer directly at the nails. Trump called himself the “Law And Order candidate,” and attacked President Obama directly for utilizing “the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color.” He noted the “damage and devastation that can be inflicted by Islamic radicals,” narrowed his infamous Muslim ban to an immediate suspension of immigration from any nation “compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” and vowed support for Israel. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump noted, he wanted “to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people. Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never will be.”
On immigration, Trump vowed a “system that works, but one that works for the American people.” He pointed out the Americans murdered by illegal immigrants and stated:
These families have no special interests to represent them. There are no demonstrators to protest on their behalf. My opponent will never meet with them, or share in their pain. Instead, my opponent wants Sanctuary Cities. But where was sanctuary for Kate Steinle? Where was Sanctuary for the children of Mary Ann, Sabine and Jamiel? Where was sanctuary for all the other Americans who have been so brutally murdered, and who have suffered so horribly?
These wounded American families have been alone. But they are alone no longer. Tonight, this candidate and this whole nation stand in their corner to support them, to send them our love, and to pledge in their honor that we will save countless more families from suffering the same awful fate.
Trump moved on to trade, where he pushed his usual anti-free trade idiocies and prevarications: “I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and to America – and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.” He spoke at length about the evils of free trade agreements from NAFTA to the WTO to TPP.
From there, he directed his comments to tax laws, which he vowed to rewrite in favor of the middle class, and regulations, which he vowed to trim. He made an outright appeal to miners and steel workers, contrasting his own positions with Hillary’s radical environmentalist shibboleths. He spoke about education, ripping the “education bureaucrats”; Obamacare, which he called “disastrous”; and the TSA, which he vowed somehow to “fix.” Here was his sole line on military growth: “We will completely rebuild our depleted military, and the countries that we protect, at a massive loss, will be asked to pay their fair share.”
He vowed to appoint “a person of similar views and principles” to Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. He also vowed to toss out IRS crackdowns on religious institutions speaking about politics.
Then he began his wrapup:
We can accomplish these great things, and so much else – all we need to do is start believing in ourselves and in our country again. It is time to show the whole world that America Is Back – bigger, and better and stronger than ever before….Remember: all of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place. Instead, we must choose to Believe In America. History is watching us now.
It’s waiting to see if we will rise to the occasion, and if we will show the whole world that America is still free and independent and strong.
My opponent asks her supporters to recite a three-word loyalty pledge. It reads: “I’m With Her”. I choose to recite a different pledge.
My pledge reads: “I’M WITH YOU – THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.”
I am your voice.
So to every parent who dreams for their child, and every child who dreams for their future, I say these words to you tonight: I’m With You, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you.
To all Americans tonight, in all our cities and towns, I make this promise: We Will Make America Strong Again.
We Will Make America Proud Again.
We Will Make America Safe Again.
And We Will Make America Great Again.
Trump's capacity for recognizing America's ills has never truly been in question. His solutions are. That's the reason so many conservatives find Trump troubling. But Trump avoided any talk of real solutions tonight. He recognized that politics is a game of opposition, and that everyone can agree with diagnosis even if few people agree with prescription. From any political angle, Trump's speech text is not just smart, it's effective and hard-hitting politics. It may not calm any qualms about principles, but it certainly shifts the onus to Hillary Clinton to provide some answers. And she's in no position to give answers.