"I am your voice," Republican nominee Donald J. Trump told convention delegates in Cleveland as he accepted his party's nomination in a speech filled with anger but lacking soaring rhetoric. His delivery was not presidential, rather it was harsh and indignant. It resonated with resentful Trump supporters who feel they are the victims of an America that has left them behind.
Trump railed against a rigged system. "No one knows the system better than me," he said pausing to smile, "which is why I alone can fix it." Declaring that he is the "law and order candidate," he said, "Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and terrorism in our cities, threaten our way of life." He promised, "the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, very soon, come to an end. Beginning on January 20 (Inauguration Day), safety will be restored."
Trump said, "The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year." He then played on fear, "Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens." He promised to build a wall along the Mexican border, but didn't mention that Mexico would pay for it. By the way, under President Barack Obama immigration is down, killings of police officers is down, and illegal immigration is down compared to previous presidents.
In his one-hour and fourteen minute speech he listed a series of domestic initiatives. He promised to renegotiate trade deals, reduce taxes, invest in infrastructure, reduce government regulations, lift restrictions on American energy, and "repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare!" He said he would address the student debt problem and appoint justices "who will uphold our laws and constitution."
Trump failed to recognize members of the American military, including those serving overseas. But he said he would "rebuild our depleted military." "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." He spoke of NATO, and said, "Countries we are protecting at a massive cost to us will be asked to pay their fair share."
Trump attacked Hillary Clinton's record as Secretary of State. "Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in civil war and a refugee crisis that now threatens the West." He continued, "After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before." He concluded, "This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness." Trump said, "We are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS and we are going to defeat them fast."
He took time to thank the evangelicals who supported him, noting, "I am not totally sure I deserve it." And he thanked his wife Melania, and his children for their support. The Trump children were impressive, especially Ivanka, who introduced her father.
Trump concluded, "I'm with you, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you!" He continued, "We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America Safe again. We will make America great again!"
Trump's speech was not about optimism, hope, the American spirit, or President Ronald Reagan's "Bright shining light on a hill." Instead, it was filled with the same themes that secured him the Republican Party's nomination. It wasn't a typical Republican speech, especially his attacks against business and free trade, and it was short on specifics. It will not appeal to Democrats who support Hillary Clinton, and it may not play well with independents.
But nothing about Trump's campaign so far has gone according to conventional wisdom.