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Notable on RNC’s day two: Eric Trump’s rallying of the base

His speech seemed to invoke all the resentments against certain changes in America over recent decades that created the breeding ground for his father’s rise in the first place.

Eric Trump delivering a pre-recorded speech to the largely virtual Republican National Convention broadcast from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Eric Trump delivering a pre-recorded speech to the largely virtual Republican National Convention broadcast from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The early commentary on day two of the Republican National Convention was mostly about first lady Melania Trump, who wrapped up the night. I thought she was interesting; I’ve never seen her talk for very long before.

But the big revelation to me of the evening was Trump’s second son, Eric.

I was impressed, not to say surprised. Not that I agreed with much of what he said. But, in the years the Trump family has been on the scene, I had developed an impression that Eric was the inarticulate one among the older Trump children. So he caught me off guard by delivering a rousing, coherent speech, even if it had plenty of blatant falsehoods. It seemed to invoke all the resentments against certain changes in America over recent decades that created the breeding ground for Trump’s rise in the first place and maybe rouse the old band for one last concert of rage, resentment and grievance tinged with racism, linked to the notion that latte-loving, flag-disrespecting Democrats look down on people like you.

I certainly don’t claim to know, and I actually doubt, whether there are enough voters in Eric Trump’s target market to save his father’s lease on the Oval Office. But I didn’t think Eric had it in him. My bad.

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And, although, I repeat, Eric Trump’s pitch relied heavily on lies, class-baiting, sleight of rhetoric, jingoism, and a few other unpleasant isms, in that part of my brain where I try (but fail) to understand Trump’s appeal to his 40 percent base, I could imagine that Eric Trump did a really good job of rallying that base with one more effort to convince working class white Americans that Donald Trump actually cares about them and/or has a plan to make their lives better, or, has already done so.

I didn’t hear the post-convention pundits talking about this. I may be delusional. And maybe I’m the only one who started out the event believing that Eric Trump was too limited to pull this off.

I’ll offer a link below to the full Eric Trump text, but here’s a taste of what struck me as a halfway credible word blizzard designed to persuade the base that Trump loves them, Democrats hold them in contempt, and that Trump, after already doing some things to address their grievance, will do more of the same if they all vote him for a second term.

Said Eric Trump, with passion, verve and a pretty good appearance of conviction:

When I stood on this convention stage four years ago, no one fully understood the historic change that was about to take place. We could all feel it. Something was happening. A movement was forming just below the surface.

The forgotten man and woman, voiceless in Washington, D.C., were preparing to rise up. Our movement followed the pattern of so many that came before us. First, we were ignored. Then we were laughed at. Then they fought us. And then, together, we won.

From that moment forward, America came first. America started winning again. America became respected again. But with every movement, there’s a counter movement.

In the view of the radical Democrats, America is a source of the world’s problems. As a result, they believe the only path forward is to erase history and forget the past. They want to destroy the monuments of our forefathers. They want to disrespect our flag, burn the stars and stripes that represent patriotism and the American dream.

They want to disrespect our National Anthem by taking a knee while our armed forces lay down their lives every day to protect our freedom. They do not want the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools. Many of them don’t want one nation under God.

The Democrats want to defund and disrespect our law enforcement. The Democrats want an America where your thoughts and opinions are censored when they do not align with their own.

President Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for and it must be protected.’ This is a fight that we are in right now, and it is a fight that only my father can win. My father ran not because he needed the job, but because that he knew hard working people across this great country were being left behind. The media mocked these Patriots in the flyover states in which they lived.

They ignored the Trump flags. They ignored the millions of MAGA banners and barns painted in red, white, and blue. The silent majority had no one fighting for them in either party. Their so-called leaders were bowing to China, bribing Iran, and spending more time worrying about how they’d be received by the elites in Paris than how Americans would provide for their families in Pittsburgh.

Our family lost friends but it only pushed us to fight harder. My father pledged to every American in every city, state, and town that he was going to Make America Great Again. And so began the great American comeback.

Almost immediately taxes were slashed, regulations were cut, and the economy soared to new heights, heights never seen before. Wages went through the roof. Unemployment reached historic lows especially for black Americans, Hispanic Americans and women. Trade deals were ripped up and renegotiated. Lights were turned back on in abandoned factories across our country.

OK, I’ll stop. But you can read the full text (there’s also a video if you are so inclined) here.

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I don’t claim to understand everything about the grievances that Trump Sr. used to (sort of) win in 2016. But I have a hunch Eric Trump or whoever wrote his speech was trying to see if they could get the band back together for a reunion tour by turning working-class Joe into a latte-sipper, playing the race card and, if necessary, losing some absentee ballots.