Trump's Speech: Optimistic, Not Dark
The Republican Convention last week was certainly not boring, from Melania Trump's speech borrowing a few phrases from Michelle Obama's speech eight years ago to Ted Cruz's non-endorsement of Donald Trump followed by a chorus of boos. Eloquent and inspiring words from the Trump wunderkind. Finally, a strong and optimistic speech by Donald Trump after accepting the nomination of his party.
Big media, now solidly in Clinton campaign mode, tried to find fault with everything about the GOP convention. The Washington Post predictably called it "The GOP's convention of chaos." With choreography on par with Olympic synchronized swimming, other media outlets all had the same word for the convention: "Dark." If there was any skepticism about big media working in lockstep, this will dispel any doubt.
From the New York Times, "His Tone Dark, Donald Trump Takes G.O.P. Mantle." Same from The New Yorker: "Donald Trump's Dark, Dark Convention Speech." The Washington Post headlined, "Donald Trump's dark speech to the Republican National Convention." TV, too, as CBS News proclaimed, "Donald Trump offers dark vision of America in GOP convention speech." Ditto across the pond where The Telegraph wrote, "Donald Trump paints dark vision of America." And plenty more elsewhere.
One man's "dark" may be another man's "optimism." CNN commissioned a snap poll the night of Trump's speech. To their surprise, they found that "[t]hree-quarters of Americans felt 'positive' about Donald Trump's convention speech." Positive is another word for optimistic. Only 24 percent of Americans said the speech had a negative effect on them, synonymous for dark.
Donald Trump's campaign from its inception over a year ago has been about optimism. He started with the slogan "Make America Great Again" on cheap red and white hats. Simple and optimistic – far more so than the Clinton messages of "I'm With Her" or her "Woman Card."
Compare Trump's forward thinking to the standard GOP establishment litany of excuses featuring the word "can't." The GOP Congress can't defund Planned Parenthood. Congress can't stop the Iran deal. How about Obamacare? Can't stop that, either. What can they do other than passively ride along in the backseat of Obama's "fundamental transformation of America"?
The GOP always has an excuse. In 2010, they needed to win the House to stop Obama. Voters gave them the House, and they did nothing. In 2012, they said they needed the Senate, too. Done. And still nothing. Now we are told by the GOP that nothing can happen until there is a Republican in the White House – by the same GOP that is braying #NeverTrump and #VoteYourConscience rather than supporting their party nominee. There is even speculation about impeaching President Trump shortly after he takes office. Talk about "dark"!
I don't see anything optimistic in the standard GOP canards. Neither did Republican primary voters, who quickly dispatched candidates who were neither optimistic nor willing to fight the Democrat darkness.
Campaigns are about pointing out contrasts and distinctions, lessons lost on the last two GOP presidential nominees who agreed with their opponent far more often than they opposed him. Remember Al Gore's 1992 speech – "Everything that should be up is down and everything that should be down is up"? Al was waving his arms like one of his renewable energy windmills, criticizing the Bush 41 administration, accurately or not, but contrasting the views of the Clinton-Gore ticket with the incumbent Bush administration. I don't recall the N.Y. Times calling his speech "dark."
Trump is simply pointing out the obvious. Economic measures that are up but shouldn't be include student loans debt, food stamp distribution, federal debt, and health insurance costs. Down but should be up are home ownership, median family income, labor force participation, and optimism over the direction of the country. This is reality. The only think dark is continuing the policies that created these problems.
Terrorist attacks both domestically and abroad are the new normal. Homeland terrorism in Garland, Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando. Terrorism in Paris, Brussels, Nice, and now Munich has made for weekly news stories. Same for police officers being shot on a regular basis. Trump points out the obvious that Americans see on a daily basis. Obama says it "doesn't match reality." Perhaps it's not his reality, but it is everyone else's.
Yes, these stories are dark, but they are nevertheless part of Obama's fundamentally transformed America. And most appropriate to discuss in a presidential campaign at a time when three quarters of Americans believe that the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. Why is it "dark" for Donald to point out that his opponent is partially responsible for that sentiment and has plans to double down on America's wrong-track direction?
Trump offers real hope and change to Americans. Optimism permeated his acceptance speech. "Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo." "I am your voice." "No prosperity without law and order." Jobs "roaring back into our country, fast." And finally, "America is back."
No wonder three quarters of those watching his speech felt positive about his plans for America. Not dark. In reality, the "dark" reflects their mood after watching the speech and learning how Americans reacted to it. Their favorite candidate has nothing to offer America and certainly nothing optimistic.
Memories of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" – simple, refreshing, and optimistic. Projecting confidence and giving voters hope. Big media simply reinforces its bias and tone-deafness in calling Trump's words "dark" in the face of most Americans hearing the same words as "optimism."
Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based retina surgeon, radio personality, and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.