If he who laughs last, laughs best, then Donald Trump must have been filled with humor Thursday night as he approached the stage to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president.
Because even in May, when Trump decimated rival Ted Cruz at the Indiana primary, walking away with 57 percent of the vote to Cruz’s 36, there were still a handful of people who laughed at the notion of Trump clinching the nomination.
Even as Cruz dropped out of the race, pummeled in a contest that he himself described as “the one thing that stands between us and the abyss,” there was a lingering doubt that Trump would ever lead this party.
Even on Monday, with an insurgency brewing in the ranks of the GOP, the party he now rightfully controls, a handful of delegates held fast to the forlorn hope that Trump would not be their man. But now, he is exactly that. He is the future of the Republican Party.
“Together, we will lead our party back to the White House, and we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace,” Trump promised a boisterous crowd in Cleveland, the same crowd that for the past four days seemed spiritless. “We will be a country of generosity and warmth,” he said. “But we will also be a country of law and order.”
Following a disaster-filled week at the convention, where the scandals seemed to fall like rain on the rooftop of Quicken Loans Arena, Trump set an aggressive agenda for a presidency he will spend the next three months battling Hillary Clinton to obtain. The day he is elected, he promised “safety will be restored.” As for crime and violence, it will soon be a thing of the past.
Trump has never walked back his insistence that Mexico will pay for a wall that engineers predict would cost in the tens of billions of dollars to build, as if sharp negotiating skills will somehow make it so. In accepting the nomination, he promised “to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our community.”
“I have been honored to receive the endorsement of America’s Border Patrol Agents,” Trump said in a 75-minute speech, “and will work directly with them to protect the integrity of our lawful immigration system.” Continuing, he assured the crowd that immigrants “are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.”
On Iran—which signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action last year, limiting its uranium-enrichment capabilities for 15 years—Trump asserted the nation was “on the path to nuclear weapons.” The Middle East, he said, is “worse than it has ever been before.”
For America to be safe, Trump said the U.S. must work with its allies “who share the goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terror.” In accomplishing this goal, he emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. “We must have the best intelligence gathering operation in the world. We must abandon the failed policy of nation building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Syria.”
Then, repeating his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, which more recently he’s changed to mean Muslim travelers from nations affected by terrorism, Trump said: “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place.”
Trump pledged, among other things, to “improve the quality of life for all Americans,” and to produce millions of jobs through—apparently—a stimulus program constructing the “roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways of tomorrow.” And while doing this he will “rescue kids from failing schools” by allowing parents to send children to the school of their choice, building on past promises to embrace charter schools and a nationwide voucher system.
As for replacing departed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump will name “a person of similar views and principles” to the bench. “This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election,” he said. He warned the crowd that Clinton would, as president, “abolish the Second Amendment,” though, as president, Clinton would have no authority to do so.
Alongside the series of ambitious and undoubtedly expensive public programs Trump has vowed to roll out if elected, he expressed a desire to create millions of American jobs through a supply-side based approach to corporate tax. “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world,” he said. “Reducing taxes will cause new companies and new jobs to come roaring back into our country.”
“No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place.”
Continued Trump: “Then we are going to deal with the issue of regulation, one of the greatest job-killers of them all. Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion a year, and we will end it. We are going to lift the restrictions on the production of American energy. This will produce more than $20 trillion in job-creating economic activity over the next four decades.”
In the days since his nomination was secured, Trump, a 70-year old billionaire known best in recent years for being an ornery TV star with a penchant for supermodels, has promised a whole world of change. Touting nationalist principals and declaring “America First,” he has said the United States should no longer shoulder the burden of defending those who pledge their loyalty but are unable to return the favor in the form of financial compensation.
Whereas Ronald Reagan’s doctrine during the Cold War sought “peace through strength,” Trump will offer strength in exchange for monetary recompense. The North Atlantic Treaty, to which the U.S. and 27 nations are bound in sworn military alliance, stipulates an attack on one is an attack on all; Trump, however, sees things very differently. “Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make,” he told the New York Times on Wednesday.
Asked whether, as commander-in-chief, he would order the U.S. military to defend Baltic allies in the event of a hypothetical Russian invasion—reminded once more of America’s obligation to its NATO allies—he replied in earnest, “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.” That’s a far cry from the promise of President Obama—who, like the succession of presidents before him, has sworn to stand at Europe’s side “in good times and in bad.”
“America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics,” Trump said in concluding his speech Thursday night. “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.”