Trump Lit Up The Skies (And The Right) While The Streets Raged — And Remade Conventions Forever

Trump Lit Up The Skies (And The Right) While The Streets Raged — And Remade Conventions Forever

The president's speech closed out the second remote convention in American history, and marked the first done right.

The most impressive political fireworks display most will recall ever seeing on their TV sets finished President Donald Trump’s address at the close of the four-day Republican National Convention Thursday evening, wrapping up the party’s rallies, energizing the president’s supporters, and changing the convention genre forever.

Just one week after a physically isolated, professionally awkward, and visually timid Democratic National Convention finale featured Joe and Jill Biden walking down an empty hallway to a cute fireworks display while socially distanced cars honked their horns in a Delaware parking lot, the Washington sky was alight and a live concert played while hundreds of attendees applauded on the White House’s South Lawn.

The president’s speech began and finished with American history, distilling the platform he ran on and the accomplishments of his administration into an hour-long address focused on “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Its themes included industry and fairer trade deals versus outsourcing and China; law and order and police versus lawlessness, murder, and defund movements; and late-term abortion versus the innocent unborn and a moral America.

Characterizing former Vice President Biden as a weak betrayer of the American worker, the president said, “For 47 years, Joe Biden took the donations of blue-collar workers, gave them hugs and,” drawing laughter, “even kisses… And told them he felt their pain – and then he flew back to Washington and voted to ship their jobs to China and many other distant lands.”

“How,” he asked at another point, “can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”

“Joe Biden claims he has empathy for the vulnerable – yet the party he leads supports the extreme late-term abortion of defenseless babies right up to the moment of birth,” Trump reminded attendees. “Democrat leaders talk about moral decency, but they have no problem with stopping a baby’s beating heart in the 9th month of pregnancy.”

As the evening progressed, the howls of the churning left-wing mob outside grew in intensity, with the sirens and screams long audible on the South Lawn eventually even coming across home television sets. In Lafayette Park, a guillotine with a Trump effigy was mock executed (facing toward the blade, in an unintentionally ironic nod to the leader of the French Revolution, who was supposedly executed by the mob in that same manner), and a white-haired man was assaulted when he reportedly came down to watch the fireworks.

While the RNC spent good money to paint “TRUMP 2020” and “USA” in the sky in pyrotechnics, no amount of spending could have painted a more stark contrast on the ground than an audience that included suited seniors, first-responders, elected American leaders, and others, including the widow of Capt. David Dorn (a black, retired officer murdered during a Black Lives Matter riot), exiting into screams, spit, and threats in the streets of the capital.

The president’s speech closed out the second remote convention in American history and marked the first done right.

While past successful conventions have been able to energize base voters and party faithful for the hard-working slog of the final stretch, if a convention designed and delivered around a national television audience is followed by a substantive rise in polling, the future of in-person conventions will be noticeably different.

Enlisting veteran producers from Trump’s television past, the focus on regular Americans, the balance of tragic sadness, patriotic pride, and simple joy, and the extra attention paid to the video content that was once considered simple filler came together to transform a party launch rally into four straight nights of 2.5-hour reality-TV theater.

Even once Trump leaves office, party leaders will not be able to return to the insider-heavy grooming fests they once held. As when President Ronald Reagan (whose American optimism Trump’s speech drew heavily from) remade the State of the Union by filling the galleries with Americans whose life challenges and triumphs embodied his vision for America, conventions will not go back to how they were.

Since COVID-19 lockdowns and politically motivated racial strife boarded up our windows and torched our cities on live television, claims of the old silent majority have been whispered and muttered by citizens who reasonably fear they’ll lose their job for so much as writing “I stand with the Blue” on their Facebook profile.

While it’s still unclear if those who support the president are indeed an electoral majority, Monday through Thursday marked the first national expression of their sentiment since the winter despair first settled. For the first time in half a year, there is real excitement on the right. If there still is a Silent Majority in America, don’t count on its silence anymore.

Christopher Bedford is a senior editor at The Federalist, the vice chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, a board member at the National Journalism Center, and the author of The Art of the Donald. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo PBS NewsHour / YouTube
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