This convention has forefronted a lot of speakers and voices appealing to the American values of tolerance, inclusion, and welcoming, including a naturalization ceremony; Melania Trump, Nikki Haley, and Cuban immigrant Maximo Alvarez talking movingly about theirs and their families’ immigrant stories; and a host of African-American speakers, such as Tim Scott, Herschel Walker, and Daniel Cameron. We’ve heard a lot about America as the land of opportunity, about overcoming discrimination, and about opportunity-spreading policies such as school choice. Many of these speakers were compelling on their own terms. Melania’s speech, despite her accent and obvious discomfort as a public speaker in a second language, struck a lot of great themes. All of them are fully consistent with conservative principles and Republican traditions.
Which leads me to suggest that perhaps this administration should have considered earlier how popular many of these themes are, and done more to build its rhetoric and policies around them. That doesn’t mean abandoning serious, hard tasks such as more stringent enforcement of the immigration laws on the books, but balancing them with pro-legal immigrant policies, for example, doesn’t need to be inconsistent with that. There are a lot more ways that other Republicans have tried to make the GOP an inclusive party, and some of Donald Trump’s partisans are prone to scoff at that. But this convention shows that even the Trump campaign recognizes the value and virtue, at least in political terms, of an inclusive message.