To the consternation of their critics in the media, Republicans continued to have a successful convention. Here are a few takeaways from their second night (first night takeaways here).
1. Message: Redemption And Opportunity
Early on in the second night of the Republican convention, the story of Jon Ponder was featured. Following his incarceration for bank robbery, Ponder founded “Hope For Prisoners,” a program that helps the incarcerated reenter the workforce, their families, and society in general.
Ponder spoke to the convention along with Richard Beasley, the FBI agent who arrested him and with whom he developed a strong friendship. At the end of their presentation, President Donald Trump granted Ponder a full pardon for his crimes. Ponder was overcome by emotion, and it was a compelling way to explain the evening’s emphasis on redemption and opportunity. Various speakers highlighted Trump’s work on criminal justice reform.
Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets talked about encountering a young couple injecting heroin. Upon discovering the woman was pregnant, he talked to her about the harm being done to the baby. Later, when she was seeking a family to place the child with, Holets offered to adopt the baby, who will soon be three years old. Her birth mother has been clean for about that long. Holets spoke with compassion about those suffering from opiates, a message later echoed in Melania Trump’s keynote address.
Various business owners talked about the challenges of operating businesses and how regulations hampered their ability to employ hard-working Americans.
And a naturalization ceremony from earlier in the day was shown to the crowd, featuring new Americans from Ghana, Sudan, India, Bolivia, and Lebanon.
It was a deceptively complex message about America as a land full of opportunity and redemption, and stood in stark contrast to the dystopic hell-hole imagery from the Democratic convention the week prior.
2. Not Dragged Down By Coronavirus
In the concluding moments of the Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their spouses donned heavy black masks to go outside on a dark stage in a large parking lot to wave at Democratic activists parked in cars 20 feet apart from each other. The activists leaned out of their cars and honked their horns and flashed their headlights.
By contrast, the Republican convention has not had people wearing masks while outside under the stars, such as when Melania Trump addressed a small crowd in the Rose Garden. The “optics” of team Biden constantly in masks and team Trump not wearing masks is a not-so-subtle clue about the direction the two parties want to take.
Trump and coronavirus absolutely dominated the Democratic convention. As big of a figure as Trump is at the Republican convention, he doesn’t dominate it as much he dominated the Democratic convention. And coronavirus is present but not controlling the Republican convention.
Some of the everyday Americans who have been featured for their work mentioned that they had the coronavirus and recovered from it. Larry Kudlow spoke about the Wuhan virus’s effect on the economy and alarmed media by speaking about it in the past tense instead of saying that it would destroy things for the foreseeable future as well.
“Then came a once in 100-year pandemic. It was awful. Health and economic impacts were tragic. Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere,” he said, instead of suggesting that children should continue to be banned from school and people should continue to be banned from working or running businesses for the next few years.
3. Nicholas Sandmann Sits On a Throne of Media Skulls
The highlight of the evening was a speech from Nicholas Sandmann, the teenager whose life the media tried to destroy by falsely reporting his role in a confrontation at a massive national pro-life rally. Major media including CNN and the Washington Post portrayed him as a racist antagonist against a peaceful Native American Vietnam veteran who was visiting the Lincoln Memorial.
In fact, Sandmann was confronted by the man, not a Vietnam veteran but just claiming to be, and he stood quietly without responding. The media’s attacks on the boy, fueled entirely by their hatred of Trump and the fact that Sandmann was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, later resulted in lawsuits which some media outlets have already settled.
My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They did so without ever researching the full video of the incident; without ever investigating Mr. Philips’ motives; or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth wasn’t important. Advancing their anti-Christian, anti-Conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative was all that mattered. And if advancing their narrative ruined the reputation and future of a teenager from Covington, Kentucky…so be it. That will teach him not to wear a MAGA hat!
If any media apologized for the role they played in trying to destroy the child’s life, it’s not well known. Many stayed quiet while he discussed his ordeal. A few attacked him, such as one CNN analyst who called him a “snot-nosed” kid from Kentucky. It was a reminder of how powerful and unaccountable major media are, particularly when they join mobs to attack their conservative political opponents.
4. Strongest Pro-Life Convention Ever
While pro-lifers and social conservatives form one of the most important blocks of support for the Republican Party, they are traditionally taken for granted. At conventions, their issues are downplayed, if not ignored.
This convention was wildly different. At one point, there were three strong pro-life speakers in a row, including Sandmann, speaking in prime time. Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, spoke about the attacks on religious liberty from the Obama-Biden administration and about teenage girls being forced to compete against biological males because of Obama-Biden regulations.
Abby Johnson gave a powerful speech about her conversion from director of a Planned Parenthood facility to the leader of a non-profit that helps abortion workers escape the industry. Her description of watching an unborn child attempt to survive a suction abortion was horrifying. Johnson said she has seen abortions and smelled abortions.
“Did you know abortions have a smell?” she asked, in one of the most hauntingly memorable lines of the night. Sandmann represented the hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists who come to Washington, D.C., to lobby for changes to abortion laws each year. At a previous Republican convention, it would be likely that none of these people would have been invited, much less all three back to back.
5. Surprisingly Deep Speeches
One of the downsides of the Democrats’ “Bad Orange Man” convention is that the speeches were all one note, the one note being “We utterly loathe Donald Trump.” That may be what was needed for a 2020 victory, but it made for a boring few nights of speeches.
Day 2 of the Republican convention continued to have interesting speeches, such as the ones mentioned above. Tiffany Trump delivered an incredibly strong speech, tackling how media and tech giants manipulate information to control people — and pulled it off. It’s really worth reading. Here’s a snippet:
People must recognize that our thoughts, opinions, and even the choice of who we vote for are being manipulated and invisibly coerced by the media and tech giants.
If you tune into the media, you get one biased opinion or another. And if what you share does not fit into the narrative they seek to promote, then it is either ignored or deemed a ‘lie,’ regardless of the truth. This manipulation of what information we receive impedes our freedoms.
Rather than allowing Americans the right to form our own beliefs, this misinformation system keeps people mentally enslaved to the ideas they deem correct. This has fostered unnecessary fear and divisiveness amongst us.
She discussed the motive for media manipulation of information (control and profit), the consequences of not reporting accurately (civil unrest), and made the case that a vote for her father is a vote for freedom:
My father is the only person to challenge the establishment, the entrenched bureaucracy, big pharma, and media monopolies to ensure that American’s constitutional freedoms are upheld, and that justice and truth prevail.
My father does not run away from challenges — even in the face of outright hatred — because fighting for America is something he will sacrifice anything for. He dreams big dreams for our country — and he is relentless at achieving them.
You see, Make America Great Again is not a slogan for my father, it is what drives him to keep his promise of doing what is right for American citizens.
Perhaps it is because Tiffany Trump is the least well-known of the adult Trump children, her speech was surprisingly effective. Eric Trump also gave a complex speech making the case for how transformative his father has been for the country’s foreign policy, national security, economic growth, and other issues. He ended with touching personal words about his affection for his father.
New Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had a fantastic debut on the national stage. Like so many of the other black Republican speakers who have addressed the convention, he explained in detail why he is not at home in the Democratic Party and why he is a Republican. He also addressed some of the racist statements recently made by Joe Biden, such as that black people have to vote for him and that black people have no diversity of thought.
Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am black. We are not all the same. 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. Biden is a backwards thinker in a world craving forward leadership.
6. A Speech Only Melania Could Give
Melania Trump gave a long and detailed speech to end the night. Her 2016 convention speech was well received but was found to have included lines from a speech Michelle Obama had previously given. There was no way that the speech she gave last night could be delivered by anyone else, and certainly not by Michelle Obama.
The media worshiped and adored Michelle Obama’s speech, which included lines suggesting that if you disagreed with it, it was because you were racist. Both she and her husband were seething with disdain and hatred in their speeches, which the media found very compelling.
Melania Trump, by contrast, gave an incredibly positive and empathetic speech. She expressed concern for pretty much all Americans, from those affected by the coronavirus to those concerned about unequal treatment under the law. She asked the rioters to stop rioting — something Biden didn’t have the courage to do — and asked Americans to try to look at things from each other’s perspective.
One line really drove home the contrast between the current and former first ladies. She said, “As you have heard this evening, I don’t want to use this precious time attacking the other side, because as we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further.”
Instead she concluded by making the case that her husband is “what is best for our country.” She spoke lovingly of her husband, who had been attacked relentlessly at the Democratic convention. “We all know Donald Trump makes no secret about how he feels about things. Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking. And that is because he is a person who loves this country and its people and wants to continue to make it better. Donald wants to keep your family safe, he wants to help your family succeed. He wants nothing more than for the country to prosper and he doesn’t waste time playing politics.”
7. Breaking Norms
Following another successful convention night, the media panicked and began claiming they were concerned that important norms had been broken. A New York Times reporter tried to get the pardoned Ponder in trouble because he runs an apolitical non-profit group. Others claimed that Trump pardoning a man and being present at a naturalization ceremony were horrible abuses. Others were enraged that Mike Pompeo addressed the convention from Jerusalem. Still others were enraged that Melania Trump spoke from the Rose Garden she recently redesigned with private money.
It was a difficult case to make and came off petty, particularly given how the media treated President Obama’s frequent flights to political fundraisers with celebrities in Los Angeles. While Republicans complained about the political use of the office, the complaints went nowhere, particularly in the media.
The most important norm that was broken in the last week was former President Barack Obama’s vicious attack on Donald Trump, including a claim that Trump’s re-election threatens democracy. The media used to hold presidents to the norm that they should withhold criticism of their successors, a norm President Obama didn’t feel the need to abide by.
8. Democratic Counter-Programming Is Riots And Mobs
Democrats decided to endorse the violent “peaceful protests” that have gripped the nation’s cities this summer. At no point in their convention did a single speaker speak against the riots or the violence that have hurt cities and their inhabitants. Many praised or justified the unrest.
On the second night of the Republican convention, the riots continued in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a small city north of Chicago. Democratic mayors and governors have resisted pleas from citizens to restore order. Yesterday, the Democrat governor of Wisconsin refused an offer from the Trump administration to send in help. As the Republican convention concluded, the riots had “intensified” into greater unrest. Portland also experienced another night in its three months of unrest.
In Washington, D.C., this week, mobs of activists roamed streets forcing strangers to raise their fist in a show of solidarity with their cause or be shouted at and threatened until they succumbed.
Political parties usually try to lay low or provide effective responses to the opposite party’s convention. Democrats, having squandered their opportunity to speak against the leftist mobs hitting cities during their convention, may struggle with how to seem less friendly toward the riots in the months to come.
CNN’s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo worried about how the riots were “showing up in the polling” and pleaded with Democrats to stop being so silent.
It’s not just that the Republican convention is going well, but that the Democratic counter-programming of riots and mobs couldn’t be worse for Democrats.