Trump's takeover of the GOP is complete

 
 
Posted7/24/2016 1:00 AM

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland has been overanalyzed and overemphasized by media needing to fill air and print space -- so why not by me?

For the record I have attended fourteen of these events for WGN radio, which hopefully gives me an historical perspective.

 

Convention Overview

Make no mistake about it. Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party. His lengthy acceptance speech, which was dominated by the word "I," contained little about traditional GOP policies or philosophy and made no reference to the party's important congressional leaders. Trump "doubled down" on his outsider status even though he is now an insider. His laundry list of promises to "make America great again" contained few specifics on process or cost, but as I wrote in these pages months ago, his supporters care less about the lyrics (what he says) because they want to hear the music (how he says it).

The key issue for November is this: How can Trump expand his political base? Yes, he talked briefly about the evils of discrimination based on race, gender and sexual preference and he even showed a slight sign of humility, but softening his image will not make him president. Donald Trump is the "red meat/red faced" candidate who is most comfortable raging against "stupid and unfair" American policies both foreign and domestic. He is unique in so many ways that he will be a formidable opponent for Hillary Clinton. One example: Trump is a billionaire with a supermodel wife who lives and travels in luxury without any shame but now claims to be the voice for working class Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Random Analysis -- Cleveland 2016

Overall the GOP convention was as much about family as it was about politics. In a unique way, it was an update of the classic film "The Sound of Music"

There, they were, the "von Trump family" highlighting each convention night with prepared speeches, putting on a grand show. Only two things were missing -- singing "Farewell so Long" Thursday night and perhaps once mentioning their mothers.

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The Monday night firestorm about whether Melania Trump's speech was partly plagiarized from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention address was silly and irrelevant. There has never been a book published entitled "Great Spouse Convention Speeches," nor should there be. Yes, it was a mistake and, yes, Trump's team played it badly, but in the end it was "Much Ado About Nothing"

The Republicans are the "out-party." President Obama and the Democrats have controlled the White House for almost eight years; ergo, this convention should have dissected the president's record and provided a Republican alternative with some detail. This did not happen!

The GOP should be grateful that Hillary Clinton will be Trump's opponent this fall. Why? The Cleveland delegates often looked more like participants in an "arranged marriage" than a party convention filled with folks united to bring specific new directions to Washington, D.C. Bashing Hillary was one of the few things where all the delegates found agreement.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is a magician. His Wednesday night speech could have been a convention highlight, especially for rock ribbed conservatives in Cleveland and around the nation. But he turned "lemonade into a lemon." Whatever the reason for his non-endorsement of Trump -- the ending of his speech should have concluded with a mildly enthusiastic recommendation for his party's nominee -- the risk not to, in my view, was too great. Then again, Cruz no longer has to worry about name recognition and if the "Trumpians" lose in November, he will have a chance to become the conservative GOP champion.

Final thought

In his acceptance speech, Trump once again said he would build a wall on our southern border (though he left out the part of having Mexico pay for it). I find it somewhat ironic that the party of President Ronald Reagan, whose most famous comment came when he told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev "to tear down that wall," now has a nominee who wants to build one.

Paul Green is director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University in Chicago and Schaumburg.

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