July 2016 Election Update – The Republican National Convention
At the time of this writing, the Republican National Convention has just wrapped up, and it was certainly one for the books. This article will briefly examine some of the major flashpoints of the convention.
Trump Selects Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his Running Mate
Donald Trump ended months of speculation regarding his pick for the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, selecting Mike Pence. Pence is the current Governor of Indiana, and had previously served for 12 years in the House of Representatives. Trump’s selection of Pence indicates two things:
- Donald Trump is still concerned with unifying the Republican base, particularly evangelicals. Mike Pence is a well establish social conservative- just this past March he signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Trump’s hope is clearly that the presence of a traditional social conservative on the ticket will encourage more enthusiasm to some of the Republican Party’s older demographics who have shown some significant hesitation to vote for him, and
- Should he win the election, Mike Pence gives a future President Trump significant experience with Congress, which he will need to push through any agenda he may have.
What this pick does not do is significantly alter the electoral map. While Obama did pull off a surprise win in Indiana in 2008, it is not expected to be a swing state in this cycle and will all but certainly go to Trump regardless of Pence.
Melania Trump Gives a Good Speech – Until Evidence of Plagiarism Arises
Melania Trump spoke on the first night of the convention. Her speech was generally very well received, until it was quickly discovered that a large portion of it was lifted – nearly word for word – from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech. The incident received a lot of press for a couple of days, but ultimately faded from view by the end of the convention. Still, it proved to be an embarrassing moment for the Trump family, especially considering how critical they have been of the Obamas.
Ted Cruz Urges Republicans to “Vote Their Conscience”
In perhaps the most dramatic moment of a tumultuous convention, Ted Cruz spoke on Wednesday night and finished his speech not by urging listeners to vote for the nominee, Trump (as most vanquished primary opponents typically do), but rather to “vote your conscience.” This was indeed a shocking moment as ‘boos’ ripped through the crowd, and Ted Cruz’s wife had to be escorted out for her own safety.
Cruz’s refusal to endorse Donald Trump on national television likely indicates that he believes Trump will lose in November, and he is already claiming the mantle of, “I was right” in anticipation of running to unseat Hillary Clinton in 2020. This is indeed a big gamble; If Trump wins the election, Cruz will be powerless within his own party, especially given Trump’s proclivity to holding grudges.
While Ted Cruz may have had the most dramatic snub, the Texas Senator is not alone in failing to support Trump- several other prominent Republicans did not even attend the convention at all, indicating their opposition to the new nominee. The most notable example of this was Governor of Ohio and recent Presidential candidate John Kasich. The convention was in Kasich’s own state, Ohio, yet he was not in attendance.
Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination
On Thursday night, one of the most fascinating primary elections in US History officially came to a close with Donald Trump’s acceptance of the Republican Nomination. Trump’s speech clocked in at well over an hour long, and was decidedly gloomy and downbeat about the nation’s current state, harkening back to the old days of Republican “law and order” speeches in a much more dour way. While crime is significantly down from decades ago, high profile events in recent weeks made Trump’s message strongly resonate with those open to hearing it, and the speech likely did a lot to unify the Republican Party.
Still, many commenters were left wondering what happened to Reagan’s shining city on the hill, with one prominent Republican dubbing Trump’s acceptance the “Nightmare in America” speech, playing off of Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” ad. It is no secret that the Republican Party has had a demographic problem in recent years, and they have only won the White House in the last few decades when they have mixed in their conservative message with substantial optimism. Reagan and George W Bush did this very well in their election wins.
Trump has shown no indications of pivoting his angry tone to accommodate the more moderate American general electorate, and it remains to be seen if his tone can carry him to the White House the same way it did to the Republican Nomination. What can be concluded for the time being is that this man should certainly not be underestimated – he demolished an entire field of experienced Republicans, and is even enjoying a convention bounce in the polls that sees him narrowly leading Hillary Clinton in the polls.
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