It feels as though President Donald Trump is everywhere at the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week. At times, he appears insouciant; at others, grave or reflective. He projects a deep concern for America’s future, a perspicacity about its history, and a profound comprehension of the current crisis that will lead to anarchy in the streets and socialism in Washington. Throughout the event, he is not just delivering speeches or quick announcements. He is being the President of the United States.
Throughout the event, he is not just delivering speeches or quick announcements. He is being the President of the United States.
On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) reminded viewers of the stark difference between the active and ever-present President Trump, and the “basement-dwelling” Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden: “So, what do we do? How about not settling for violence in our neighborhoods or at our border? Not settling for second-best to cheating China? And not settling for another round of bad decisions by basement-dwelling Joe Biden?”
On Tuesday night, Trump was there giving a presidential pardon to Jon Ponder, who was incarcerated for bank robbery, became an evangelical Christian while in prison, and founded Hope for Prisoners, a reentry program, upon his release. Ponder could barely hold back his tears as President Trump announced—live, during the convention—that he was granting a Presidential pardon to Ponder.
“Two years ago I was honored to tell Jon Ponder’s story in the Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer. Today I’m thrilled to welcome him back to the White House. Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” the President recounted. “Jon dedicated his life to Christ. He spent the rest of his time in prison studying the Bible … In the last ten years since Jon was released, he’s created one of the most successful reentry programs, Hope for Prisoners, in Las Vegas. I was glad to speak there earlier this year,” he continued.
A little while later on Tuesday’s programming, the President presided over a naturalization ceremony, depicting a picture of cultural diversity that directly refuted the constant Democratic lies that Republicans enable white supremacy. “You followed the rules. You obeyed the laws. You learned your history, embraced our values and proved yourselves to be men and women of the highest integrity,” the President said, speaking to our (new) fellow Americans. “It’s not so easy. You went through a lot, and we appreciate you being here with us today. You have earned the most prized treasure anywhere in the world. It’s called American citizenship.”
The last two nights of programming have been so effective that liberal media NBC decided that viewers shouldn’t see or hear any of it. Instead, it showed host Chuck Todd studying an electoral map until the event was over. (And, if there was any doubt about the overwhelming bias of the liberal media establishment, CNN host Chris Cuomo suggested it isn’t really necessary to fact check Democrats like Republicans, because “they are not lying the way Trump does.”).
The RNC provides a vastly different convention than the Democrats did last week, not just in tone, but in content. While the DNC often felt like a high school telethon, rife with embarrassing moments of phony applause tracks and political delirium, or static cameras featuring people speaking to empty warehouses, the first two nights of the RNC had featured real people, authentic clapping, and a camera that moves around the White House and into the Rose Garden.
This is not just inspired television (from a President who knows what makes good TV), it is inspired politics. The RNC is presenting a Republican Party that is not only wide awake and ready to fight in the Presidential and Congressional elections, but confident in the knowledge that it is right.
AT THE RNC, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY PITCHES ITS BIG TENT
On Monday night, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) spoke not only of how a Democratic-controlled southern society had treated his grandfather, but how Scott—as a Republican—had also broken racial barriers and been elected to both the House and Senate. “My grandfather’s 99th birthday would have been tomorrow. Growing up, he had to cross the street if a white person was coming. He suffered the indignity of being forced out of school as a third grader to pick cotton, and never learned to read or write,” Scott recalled. “Yet, he lived to see his grandson become the first African American to be elected to both the United States House and Senate.” He continued:
“Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime. And that’s why I believe the next American century can be better than the last. There are millions of families like mine across this nation … full of potential seeking to live the American Dream. And I’m here tonight to tell you that supporting the Republican ticket gives you the best chance of making that dream a reality,” he continued.
The issue of race was ever-present during the last couple of nights—but not how the Democrats and their media would have you believe. More black speakers followed Scott that night, like football great Herschel Walker, who told the convention that he takes it “as a personal insult” when people accuse President Trump, a close personal friend for over three decades, of being a racist.
On Tuesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron obliterated Democratic arrogance and the hubris of Joe Biden, who declared recently that black people must unthinkingly vote the straight Democratic ticket. “I think often about my ancestors who struggled for freedom,” Cameron said. “And as I think of those giants and their broad shoulders, I also think about Joe Biden, who says ‘if you aren’t voting for me, you ain’t black,’ who argued that Republicans would put us ‘back in chains,’ who says there is no diversity of thought in the black community.”
“Mr. Vice president, look at me,” Cameron declared. “I am black. We are not all the same, sir. I’m not in chains. My mind is my own. And you can’t tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin.”
Just like the issue of racial equality, the RNC has not been afraid to highlight the social issues for which it has fought bravely and consistently for years—including abortion. Consider the appearance of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson on Tuesday night. Johnson described what life is like in the abortion provision world—like the killing squads that once engaged in the mass shootings of Jews, abortionists either go mad, quit, or attempt to insulate their minds and souls with a desperate rationale for murder. Johnson eventually quit that line of work. Last night, she reminded us of how President Trump, a man who arrived at the presidency with few religious trappings amid a largely secular world, has been the most pro-life President since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
“During his first month in office, he banned federal funds for global health groups that promote abortion,” Johnson said. “That same year, he overturned an Obama-Biden rule that allowed government subsidy of abortion. He appointed a record number of pro-life judges, including two Supreme Court justices. And importantly, he announced a new rule protecting the rights of healthcare workers objecting to abortion, many of whom I work with every day.”
The RNC continuously highlighted those who stood up for their beliefs and convictions, despite the adversity they faced. Former Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann was also there to declare that, despite being vilified for attending the 2019 March for Life in Washington, D.C., “I would not be canceled.” Republicans, the RNC has made clear, are building for themselves a big tent, and all who believe in the American project are welcome, without fear of annulment.
A BELIEF IN THE “BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE”
Tuesday night may have belonged to First Lady Melania Trump—perhaps a secret weapon for the Republicans and the Trump administration that has remained clandestine for too long. Melania was not just inspired in her presentation—she was inspirational. While Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, had spent most of her speech at the DNC trying to convince viewers that her husband was an awfully nice guy who still possessed his mental faculties, Melania reached beyond mere spousal recommendation, speaking eloquently about the real social evils that are cancerous lesions in the body politic of America. And she did so with grace, declaring outright, at the beginning of her speech, that she was not here to deliver a harangue against either of the Bidens or eviscerate the Democrats.
“I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice. And never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin.”
Melania spoke openly about the open secret that America has become plagued by the disease of addiction, encouraging people who are in bondage to opioids and the other mood-altering scourges that undermine the nation to seek help and deal with their illness.
She also had the courage to talk about the issue that was conspicuous by its absence from the DNC—the riots and looting that have produced a combustible cocktail of violence and hatred across America. “I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice. And never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin.”
It was a moment of profound authority, as she spoke a truth that should be obvious to everyone, but has become unfamiliar to so many. The camera frequently panned to President Trump during Melania’s speech, who appeared to be listening with rapt attention—and perhaps a shade of regret that the First Lady has not allocated more time to deliver more speeches that unify the nation.
Yes, this is a well-staged, managed, and produced convention. Yes, it has been carefully planned and effectively delivered. Yes, the RNC has been designed to reassure party supporters that a Trump presidency has been a success, and encourage them that he is poised for re-election. However, one senses that as much as it may have been designed as a convention that was all about President Trump, it has become a celebration of not just its leader, but of a party that has found a new and resonant voice that is cascading across the political landscape.
The Republican Party has, at the RNC, declared itself to be a party that refuses to play the traditional race-baiting politics with the Democrats. It is a party that demands we stop playing word-games about the severity or reality of the social ills that afflict America, and get on with the hard work of cleaning them up. It is a party as enamored with truth, and the hard, messy, but vital project of freedom—just as it was upon its founding with the abolition of slavery.
The convention is at its half-time break. It will resume Wednesday night. If Republicans can continue to convince Americans that they are the party that is fighting to preserve those “better angels of our nature” of which Lincoln spoke—and not the febrile anarchy that Democrats cannot condemn or even acknowledge—then there is profound hope for our future.