Donald Trump promised to save America, and speak for it too. “I AM YOUR VOICE,” the Republican Party’s presidential nominee called out at the convention, vowing to stick up for Americans who have been “ignored, neglected and abandoned.” The crowd went wild. Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP was complete.
Trump painted a picture of a country on the verge of obliteration. “Attacks on our police, and the terrorism of our cities, threaten our very way of life,” he said. He spoke of illegal immigration as a nearly existential threat to the nation, and described undocumented immigrants in terms that sounded more animal than human. “Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens,” he said. Trump accused President of Obama of using “pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color.” He saw danger lurking at home and abroad. “To make life safe for all of our citizens,” he said, “we must also address the growing threats we face from outside the country: We are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS.”
Offering himself as an antidote to chaos, Trump promised to “restore law and order to our country.” “The crime and violence that afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end,” he said. He spoke with enthusiasm about his plan to “put America First,” pledging that “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” In Trump’s telling, he will be the country’s savior. “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” he told the crowd. It was, as it has been from the start, a show of empathy for the average American considering delivered by a wealthy elite.
He vowed to protect the LGBTQ community from terrorism. “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community.” He promised: “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful, foreign ideology.” Trump added: “I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.” The crowd went wild with enthusiastic cheers and applause.
Trump was unsparing in his attacks on Hillary Clinton who he described as the source of many of America’s problems and an embodiment of the corrupt ruling class. He accused Clinton of being the “puppet” of “big business, elite media and major donors.” He talked about her in criminal terms: “When the FBI Director says that the Secretary of State was ‘extremely careless’ and ‘negligent,’ he said, “these terms are minor compared to what she actually did. They were just used to save her from facing justice for her terrible crimes.” Summing up Clinton’s sins succinctly, Trump called her legacy one of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.” But, he reminded his audience, “Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy,” not if Americans elect him to the White House.
With a new kind of leader, we can revive our country, he promised the crowd. “The problems we face now–poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad–will last only as long as we continue relying on the same politicians who created them.” Trump added: “a change in leadership is required to produce a change in outcomes.”
It is true that Trump offers change. He reminded Americans of that this week when, in an interview with The New York Times, he raised questions “about his commitment to automatically defending NATO allies if they are attacked.” That’s just one way Trump could change America. He has also promised to build a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border and temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country (though tonight, he revised that to say: “we must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism,” adding: “we don’t want them in our country!”) Americans will have to decide in November if Trump is indeed the change that they want.