by George Rasley, CHQ Editor
One of the greatest and most enduring mysteries of the Trump movement was on full display during the President’s huge reelection kick-off rally in Orlando, Florida last night: Donald Trump gave a great conservative speech, without once ever uttering the word conservative or talking about conservatism as an alternative to the socialism of the Democrats.
Instead, the President spoke of his presidency and the themes of his reelection campaign in terms of conservative ideas, conservative values and conservative policies as simply being American.
Trump’s conscious or unconscious decision to equate conservative ideas, policies and values with Americanism, in contrast to the Democrats’ radical socialism, may be his most enduring contribution to American political discourse. It is certain that the core ideas that the Democratic Party has now embraced have no precedent in American constitutional liberty and only Donald Trump would be unafraid to call them un-American.
Trump mocked and disparaged Democrats, calling them the leaders of an “angry, left-wing mob” and declaring that the 2020 election will be a “verdict on the un-American conduct of those who tried to undermine our great democracy, undermine you.”*
“Our political opponents look down with hatred on our values and with utter disdain for the people whose lives they want to run,” the President said, reintroducing a theme from 2016 as he reminded his audience that Democrats thought of their fellow Americans as “deplorable” and “irredeemable.”
“They tried to take away your dignity and your destiny. But we will never let them do that, will we?” the president said, and as The New York Times phrased it “declaring victory over a political machine that opposed his election.” “They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign, probably the greatest election in the history of our country.”
Driving home the point, President Trump said, “Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage,” Trump adds. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable. It’s not going to happen.”
While a chunk of the President’s speech was a predictable litany of administration accomplishments that might have fit better in a State of the Union address, one statistic that he threw out was truly astonishing: America has added 16,000 manufacturing jobs a month since he took office.
However, the most important parts of the speech were the values statements that would be the themes and narrative of his reelection campaign, and the values elements that Mr. Trump reviewed were straight out of the conservative wish list:
Republicans believe that “every life is a sacred gift from God” and after blasting Democrats for “ripping babies straight from the mother’s womb” he said some Democrats, especially in Virginia, back “execution after birth.”
“America will never be a socialist country. Ever. Republicans do not believe in socialism. We believe in freedom.”
Democrats’ embrace of open borders and illegal immigration is “morally reprehensible and it’s the greatest betrayal of the American middle class and, frankly, American life our country has as a whole… nobody has seen anything like it.”
One of the most interesting elements of the speech was that the President continued to campaign against Hillary Clinton, getting some of his greatest (at least on our reading of the applause meter) responses from criticizing her. This might seem counterintuitive, but Mrs. Clinton remains deeply unpopular and getting the Democrats to defend her rather than talk about themselves is a brilliant move.
President Trump came back to the theme of just how un-American Democrats are several times during the speech with one of the most powerful statements being, “Imagine if we had a Democrat president and Democrat Congress in 2020,” Trump says. “They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents, which they are trying to do now anyway … They would strip Americans of their constitutional rights while flooding the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base.”
One of the most interesting sections of the speech was one where Mr. Trump says he only thinks about how the American people can “win, win, win today” when he sits as his desk. He says there have been “few presidents that have been able to do what we have been able to do for you. It is a great, great feeling. I love it.” He says he is “breaking the most sacred rule in Washington politics” — “keeping our promises to the American people.” He concludes by saying his only special interest is the voters. That was undoubtedly the real Donald Trump, not a speechwriter, speaking.
If there was a summary line in the speech it is probably this one: “Since the very first day I walked through the doors of the White House, I have never forgotten who sent me there,” Trump said. “You did.”
*Quote from The New York Times
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