Memo 08.22.2020

To War, GOP


Some last-minute advice for the convention.

This is the first in a series of editors’ notes which we will publish three times a week in the lead-up to this historic election.—Eds.

Dear Republicans,

Here is some last-minute advice on themes you need to drive home during the convention. We suspect that you’re in danger of kicking off what will (charitably) be described as a platitudinous non-event—just like the Democrats. If you want to go that route, just replace Eva Longoria with Ben Sasse and follow one of your slick political consultants. They know the drill.

But we are currently in the midst of a regime crisis—and on the brink of devastatingly radical changes in politics, culture, and economics that will not be reversible. So if you care about the American people, and winning the election on their behalf, here are a few notes to consider between now and Monday.

First, you need to announce you are mounting a counter-revolution against the Left. You need to acknowledge the stakes. Enough defense. Enough capitulation on matters great and small. Rather (in broad outline): attack the Democrats’ militant message of Potemkin multiculturalism at every turn. For the Democrats all flows from this toxic wellspring: the race quotas, the riots, the cancellations, everything. Loudly and utterly reject political correctness and identity politics. Loudly and whole-heartedly embrace freedom of thought and equality under the law instead.

The GOP alternative cannot be vapid or bob flotsam-like on the surface level of policy. It needs to go deeper. You need to create and foster an overarching theme, as President Trump did in front of Mount Rushmore on July 4. This theme becomes your political north star from here until November. So, here is your new purpose and message: Preserving the American Way of Life.

Second, with your new message as a frame, get specific. Call out the Left and the Democratic Party for what they’ve inspired by falsely sanctifying the riots: a revolutionary insurrection against the American Way of Life. Show the American people specific examples. Get clear on this point and don’t go wobbly. You’ll be thanked by shopkeepers, terrified families, and the (ever more numerous) victims of violence—by freedom-loving Americans of every race and creed.

Third, say it loud and say it proud: “America is not Racist.” You know this already. You say it at the dinner table. Your voters know it. They too say it, probably out of earshot of their corporate bosses. They are waiting—yearning!—for leaders with the spine to stand up and say it from the nation’s biggest pulpits. Once they hear you say it, they’ll say it too. That’s real leadership. Just say the words. Pronouncing them in public will break the intimidating woke spell now zombifying all too many good Americans.

Defend what you know is true. The American people are constantly let down by cowardly leaders who refuse to do so. We know we are a decent people in a beautiful land, and we can and will—unless impeded by identity politics derangement—go on to grow increasingly good and beautiful.

Fourth, support—both visibly and in speech—law enforcement at every level. The police, your border patrol agents, the DEA, Homeland Security. You know, the folks the Democrats want disbanded or put in the hospital by thugs who smash America while Democrats smugly justify the violence. The police don’t need defunding, they don’t even need chastisement. They need a damn parade—and the spine-stiffening rhetoric to match.

To cite Norman Podhoretz as recently paraphrased by Tom Klingenstein: this country “has brought more freedom and more prosperity to more people than any country in the history of mankind. Americans know this, but they desperately need to hear it from their leaders.” We are still, to paraphrase Lincoln, the world’s last and best hope. And as President Trump recently said, once America goes, the world goes.

The good news is, you know and feel the truth of what we advise. This administration has put the fresh air on blast after years of Republican loserdom. You have done great work so far. So trust the plan. Deviate from it—treat this Convention and the current moment as a blip between cozy, comfy stretches of normal—and there will be no more American Way of Life to Preserve. That we can tell you.

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The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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