Posted by Kristin McCarthy on July 22, 2016 in Blog


That's a wrap here in Cleveland, but before we head out for Philadelphia (no rest for the weary or the AAI staff), here's a quick rundown of what happened when Donald Trump accepted the 2016 Republican nomination.

Arab Americans at the Convention

In the Convention Hall

We have to say, if Trump's convention was a one-night affair, and that night was last night, it'd be a pretty big success for his brand. On the final night of festivities, the speaker line-up seemed to be honed, groomed, prepared, and checked for plagiarism. The Convention was packed and the energy was palpable, and Donald Trump was in his zone.

Starting with the first few speakers - Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Pastor Mark Burns - the speakers came out strong for the conservative evangelical community on bread and butter Republican issues like abortion, religious freedom, and more. The first speakers weren't a perfect fit for the theme of the night, "Make America One Again," but we took note of Mark Burns' inclusion of "Muslim lives matter" among the string of demographic characteristics he thinks should be added to the Black Lives Matter title, even if their inclusions only serve to dilute the movement for racial justice for African Americans. 

On a very personal level, longtime friend Tom Barrack and Ivanka Trump, gave compelling speeches littered with vignettes about Donald Trump's care for others, business acumen, leadership style, and stories that hoped to make Trump relatable to the average American. One speaker even called Donald a "blue-collar billionaire."

Prior to Donald's speech, the night took on a notably more focused narrative building up the work and values of the entire Republican Party, capped by another speech by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. There was also a decided lack of focus on eviscerating Trump's opponents, as was the case every night prior. The popular "Lock Her Up" chant was kept to a minimum, and the hateful anti-Democrat, anti-Obama, anti-Clinton tropes were comparatively few and far between. 

By the time Donald Trump took the stage to accept the party's nomination, the crowd was ready - including one Code Pink demonstrator who disrupted his speech. Having leaked 4 hours ahead of time, Trump's speech was expansive, substantive, controlled, entirely scripted, and characteristically foreboding of doomsday. Throughout his remarks, Trump sold himself as the "law and order candidate," and hit his usual talking points on immigration, crime, foreign entanglements, and terrorism with a degree of control that an unscripted Donald Trump is not known for. The message was effectively delivered even if it included more fear of immigrants, Muslims, Syrian refugees and surprisingly some support of the LGBTQ community after the attack in Orlando. There was no mention of the need to support that same community when it is attacked by members of his own party.

On refugees in particular, Trump's rhetoric and policies continue to treat the most vulnerable victims of violence as a threat to our national security even though that tired charge has been debunked time and again. His suggestion that refugees aren't vetted is simply false (check out the steps in the ~3 year resettlement process for yourself). Further, Trump did not back away from his disgraceful plan to ban immigration from "any nation that has been compromised by terrorism." This plan is just the latest iteration of a religiously-based plan that incriminates entire populations and puts many, many suffering and/or innocent people in danger. Even a narrow ban goes against American values and feeds the hateful misconceptions about that part or the world. It should be roundly condemned by all Americans. 

Outside the Convention

Senator Ted Cruz had a rough day. He began the day by doubling down on his non-endorsement, saying "I am not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my father." The consensus in Cleveland is that Cruz did more damage to his own career than he did to Donald Trump's prospects in November. 

The Trump campaign continued to struggle to keep the media at bay. Campaign Manager Paul Manafort made an incredibly sexist comment live on MSNBC. Manafort's comments capped a week of media mishaps by the Trump campaign which seemed to spend most of the Convention in damage control mode, rather than celebrating.

Compared to the other three, the final day seemed to end on a high note for those in attendance. We'll see what the lasting impression and/or damage the past week has done for the Party and their candidate.

The Daily Dispatch is done for this week - but we can't wait to keep you up to date on all the happenings in Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention starting next Tuesday!


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