Four years ago, Democrats booed God at their convention. Now, God is no longer welcome at the Republican convention either. This is the first convention speech delivered by a GOP nominee in recent memory that had no mention of God other than the obligatory “God bless America” at the end. Yet, it had two references to the pagan contrived distinction of LGBT LGBTQ.
When viewing the speech through the lens of the three-legged conservative stool, it’s quite evident two of the legs are missing or corroded. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly:
His speech is light on solutions and very heavy on emotional appeal.
The Good – Law and Order
This speech was almost exclusively focused on one leg of the conservative stool – security. As I’ve said before, national security really has three layers relevant to our time: violence in our communities, open borders, and foreign policy/military affairs. On that front, this speech was very well aligned with the views I’ve been advocating for years. The theme of putting American sovereignty and security first is well detailed in several chapters of my book. So I’m not going to say I wasn’t happy with this part of the speech. The diagnosis of the problem was long overdue. Thanks to a carefully drafted speech by primarily one staffer who shares these views on law and order, Trump stayed on message and focused on issues that have been appallingly absent from the GOP agenda for years. This is the highlight of the speech.
However, it must be said that, as is always the case, his speech is light on solutions and very heavy on emotional appeal. Remember, Republicans have always been good at identifying Democrat failures, especially in this era. This speech did not disappoint in that respect, as the indictment against Hillary was very effective.
Foreign policy was a bit light, but the strength without nation-building path was what the base wants to hear. Although everyone has forgotten that Trump himself supported the Libya intervention. Thankfully, Trump made no mention to his shared support of Turkey’s Muslim Brotherhood leader with Obama.
The Bad – Limited Government and Economy
There was simply no mention, nor foundation, of limited government and the power of a civil society and free markets to create economic growth. Once again, he diagnosed some problems some will agree with on trade, but just like we are not one trade deal away from prosperity (as suggested by some ardent free traders), we are not one more nullification of a trade deal to prosperity. There were no solutions or positive vision other than Trump will make America great again. And there was certainly no mention of reducing the size of government and tackling the debt in a serious way, which is actually killing the economy now.
When coupled with his daughter’s social justice progressive speech, a screed that could be delivered in Philadelphia next week, we are back to New Deal Republicans.
The Ugly- No God, Values, Inalienable Rights
Let’s face it, this party is done not only with social conservatism but even religious libertarianism. The crisis of conscience in this country in which religious Americans are being fined or imprisoned for not violating their conscience and inalienable rights ranks among the most existential threats to our society. Yet, there was no mention of it, nor was there mention of life, Planned Parenthood’s butchery, a strong civil society, property rights, or anything remotely resembling values. This is a first for nomination speeches. Most appallingly, there was not a single mention of God or faith other than the obligatory “God bless America” and the thank you to Evangelicals … for voting for him. This should shake conservatives of all stripes to their core.
How appropriate that his speech was devoid of any reference to founding values given that Gov. Mary Fallin spoke shortly before. She is the governor of the most conservative state who blocked legislation fighting Obama’s transgender edict and vetoed a prolife bill. Also, the founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, who is gay, spoke thereafter and took a veiled shot at conservatives insinuating that they are the ones inciting a culture war. The crowd clapped and did not boo. Mike Pence evidently clapped as well. On the other hand, they booed Cruz’s call for conscience. A crisis of conscience indeed. Not only is this a party unwelcoming to social conservatives; it is a party that now agrees with the premise that those who think a man is a man are the ones creating a culture war, not the cultural Marxists engaging in grotesque de-civilization and disruptive violations of natural law and property rights. Very fitting at a convention where Jerry Fallwell Jr. walks onstage right as the music finished playing “she’s a sex machine.”
I certainly can’t fault someone for wanting to stop Hillary Clinton and for placing some hope at least in parts of the security leg of Trump’s campaign platform. But just remember, when coupled with his cult of personality, no foundation in God (never asked God for forgiveness), lack of specific solutions and consistency, and many of the people around him being liberal or establishment hacks, there are major problems here. Rather than shout down concerns, we need to pressure those around him to keep him strong and consistent on his good points and fill in the gaps on at least some of the problematic positions.
Most importantly, we must recognize that whether Trump wins or loses, conservatives do not have a political party that represents them anymore on so many levels. So let’s not get bogged down over the question for whom to cast the ballot this fall, but what we are going to do now to build a party that represents the values that made America great in the first place.
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Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.