The Federalist publishes an advance copy of Trump’s remarks. These aren’t the remarks I, a follower of the man Swinburne contemptuously called the “pale Galilean,” would have liked to hear tonight. But from a strictly political point of view, this one is a winner that’s completely in touch with the cultural moment. Excerpts:
Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.
Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims.
I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.
The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.
Let me take a time out from the speech to repeat an e-mail a friend in a major American city sent to me this afternoon:
I went to the gun range today. Thursdays in the early afternoon, around 2, is my usual range time. Usually there are 3-5 people shooting. Two weeks ago I was the only one. Today I was first in line when someone finished, which was 45 minutes later. Every alley was full, and there were groups of people in line behind me. One group had 8 people. Of those, only 2 had ever shot. The other 6 want to learn.
I talked to one of my buddies there, and [he] said Monday at 10:00, they open at 9:00, they were already putting people in line, and it has stayed that way all week. He said people are scared, learning to shoot, and trying to get their LTC [license to carry] as quickly as possible.
Trump is definitely speaking to the moment. He may not be speaking to you, but he is speaking to many, many people in the country right now. Back to the Trump address:
The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect. This will all change in 2017.
The American People will come first once again. My plan will begin with safety at home – which means safe neighborhoods, secure borders, and protection from terrorism. There can be no prosperity without law and order. On the economy, I will outline reforms to add millions of new jobs and trillions in new wealth that can be used to rebuild America.
A number of these reforms that I will outline tonight will be opposed by some of our nation’s most powerful special interests. That is because these interests have rigged our political and economic system for their exclusive benefit.
Big business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place. They are throwing money at her because they have total control over everything she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.
That is why Hillary Clinton’s message is that things will never change. My message is that things have to change – and they have to change right now. Every day I wake up determined to deliver for the people I have met all across this nation that have been neglected, ignored, and abandoned.
I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.
I AM YOUR VOICE.
That’s rhetorical gold. All of it. I have never heard Trump or any other politician since Pat Buchanan put it so succinctly. More:
And when a Secretary of State illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence – I know that corruption has reached a level like never before.
When the FBI Director says that the Secretary of State was “extremely careless” and “negligent,” in handling our classified secrets, I also know that these terms are minor compared to what she actually did. They were just used to save her from facing justice for her terrible crimes.
In fact, her single greatest accomplishment may be committing such an egregious crime and getting away with it – especially when others have paid so dearly. When that same Secretary of State rakes in millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers I know the time for action has come.
I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.
Again, this is Grade-A red-meat populism, which has the great advantage of telling a true thing about Hillary Clinton and the Establishment. Whether or not Trump can or will do a thing about it is another question. But this is a really good speech on these themes. Trump will go on:
America was shocked to its core when our police officers in Dallas were brutally executed. In the days after Dallas, we have seen continued threats and violence against our law enforcement officials. Law officers have been shot or killed in recent days in Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan and Tennessee.
On Sunday, more police were gunned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three were killed, and four were badly injured. An attack on law enforcement is an attack on all Americans. I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police: when I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order our country.
I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done. In this race for the White House, I am the Law And Order candidate.
Straight-up Nixon ’68. Henceforth, every incident of violence against the police, every left-wing riot outside Trump campaign stops, and every campus disturbance this fall, will be a Trump commercial.
Here’s the love letter to Milo part:
Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.
There’s so much more, but here’s how he winds the thing down:
But now, my sole and exclusive mission is to go to work for our country – to go to work for all of you. It’s time to deliver a victory for the American people. But to do that, we must break free from the petty politics of the past.
America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics.
Remember: all of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place.
Instead, we must choose to Believe In America. History is watching us now.
It’s waiting to see if we will rise to the occasion, and if we will show the whole world that America is still free and independent and strong.
My opponent asks her supporters to recite a three-word loyalty pledge. It reads: “I’m With Her”. I choose to recite a different pledge.
My pledge reads: “I’M WITH YOU – THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.”
He’s going to deliver those lines in a couple of hours, and they’re going to bring the house down.
Read the whole speech. Or listen to it tonight. You may well hate this address, and it won’t be remembered in the annals of eloquent oratory, but give Trump his due: this thing gets the job he wants done done, and with great force. Ross Douthat earlier today called it “Buchananism without religion.” He’s right — and it’s Trump’s conspicuous lack of Christian virtue that worries me a very great deal about him in the White House.
But I’m not writing about that here. I’m writing about this speech, the biggest of Trump’s life. You know I’m not a Trump guy, but having read this address in advance, I think, for the first time, that Donald Trump could win this thing.
UPDATE: Now that I’ve actually heard Trump’s speech, in which he veered far off the script here, my opinion of it is greatly reduced. I am going to close comments here, and redirect you all to my post-speech critique here.